LONDON (CNNfn) - U.K. cable operator Telewest soared 18 percent in London Thursday after Microsoft Corp. said it is buying a 29.9 percent stake in the company from MediaOne.
Telewest stock rocketed 45 pence higher to 284 pence on the news, which sparked hopes of an outright bid for the U.K.'s second-largest cable network operator. Telewest, a member of the benchmark FTSE 100 index, is valued at some 6.1 billion pounds ($10 billion).
"Microsoft's been sniffing around [the U.K. cable industry] for ages," one senior industry executive said.
Takeover speculation has swirled around Telewest for some time. The company is in strategic talks with Britain's biggest cable TV company, Cable & Wireless Communications (CWZ). CWC is part of Cable & Wireless (CW.).
Microsoft now is sure of a pivotal role in the development of cable TV in the United Kingdom because it owns a $500 million stake in NTL, Britain's third major cable network operator.
Telewest said it "welcomed Microsoft as a new shareholder," but wouldn't comment on what the new shareholder arrangement will mean for its talks with CWC.