TCI in talks with Argentina's Grupo Mulitmedios America

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BUENOS AIRES -- Tele-Communications International of the U.S. says it's in discussions to buy into one of Argentina's biggest media companies, but denies that it has reached any deal.

The Englewood, Colorado-based company, also known as TCI International, is negotiating to buy an 80% stake in closely-held Grupo Multimedios America, one of Argentina's biggest media companies which owns a broadcast TV station, a daily business newspaper, AM and FM radio stations, as well as TV production facilities.

"We are in conversations with Multimedios. We're having conversations about a number of opportunities, but there's no deal yet," says George Stewart, chief operating officer of TCI International's Argentine cable television operator CableVision. TCI International had previously denied reports of the negotiations.

The Grupo Multimedios America purchase would give TCI International extensive production facilities, where it could develop programming for Argentine and Latin American markets as it does in the U.K. with its Flextech Plc unit and in Japan through its Jupiter Telecommunications Co. Ltd. unit.

The company could also use future production for the Sky Entertainment Services Latin America direct-to-home television platform which it owns with News Corp., Mexico's Televisa and Organizacoes Globo of Brazil.

"If something's going to happen then let's do it. There's no intention of dragging these negotiations out," Stewart says. He didn't specify a date when a deal could be signed.

TCI International in 1995 bought 51% of cable TV operator CableVision from businessman Eduardo Eurnekian, owner of Grupo Multimedios America, for about $300m. The company has confirmed that it will exercise an option to buy another 29% of the operator, which has about 530,000 subscribers, before next April.

Stewart also says that TCI International Chief Executive Officer Fred Vierra recently met with Argentine President Carlos Menem to discuss further investments aside from Grupo Multimedios America here.

TCI International also owns a 35% stake of Torneos y Competencias, an Argentine sports programming producer which has tight hold on local soccer TV rights.

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Copyright November 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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