Dutch cable giant United Pan-Europe Communications (UPC) confirmed that it is in the running to buy a major stake in Noos, the French cable network operated by the Suez-Lyonnaise combine.

UPC's bid was explained by chairman Mark Schneider at a press meeting in Amsterdam on Friday: "We are interested in taking a larger position than the 20% being offered."

Suez is seeking to replace France Telecom, which currently holds a 49.9% stake in Noos. Bidders are being offered the chance to either acquire all of France Telecom's shares or to buy a 20% participation now with the possibility of picking up more shares at the time of a planned flotation of Noos, when France Telecom could sell out completely.

With only a handful of bidders left in the race - the UK's NTL is understood to be another - UPC believes it has a strong chance of success. The group, which already counts 375,000 French cable subscribers through its 92% owned UPC France subsidiary, is on good terms with France Telecom, having recently struck a joint promotion deal with France Telecoms Dutchtone mobile phone subsidiary.

Francoise Meaux Saint Marc in Paris contributed to this report.