The UK's biggest cable operator NTL has said it is "fully able" to meet all its trading obligations and interest payments, after rating agency Standard & Poor cut its rating from stable to negative.

It is the second time in six month's that Standard & Poor has downgraded NTL, which is struggling under $17bn of debt.

The downgrading follows comments by investment bank Goldman Sachs on Wednesday that it expects NTL to swap its bonds for shares as part of a major debt restructuring package in 2002.

"We expect NTL to restructure sometime, certainly within 2002. Exactly when is hard to say, but it could be within the first half", Goldman Sachs analysts said.

NTL said on Monday it would cut 2,000 jobs - in addition to almost 5,000 cut in the past year - freeze managerial pay, and review all costs as it attempts to keep increasingly nervous investors on board.