U.K. cable company taps Comcast for new CEO

Amid merger talks with Virgin Mobile, NTL grabs Stephen Burch for his experience in acquiring AT&T Broadband.

U.K. cable operator NTL has announced a management shake-up as it moves ahead with an aggressive acquisition strategy.

Chief Executive Simon Duffy, credited as being responsible for the cable company's recent bid for Virgin Mobile, will step down from the post and take on the title of executive vice chairman.

Stephen Burch

Stephen Burch, president of Comcast's Atlantic division, will become the new president and CEO of NTL on Jan. 16.

NTL is hoping to draw on Burch's experience at Comcast--specifically, working on the AT&T Broadband acquisition--to help with NTL's integration of Telewest, which it agreed to buy in October. The combined company will be the United Kingdom's second-largest pay-TV company (behind BSkyB) and the second-largest phone company (behind BT Group).

In his new role, Duffy will be responsible for mergers and acquisitions, and analysts believe that he'll still drive negotiations with Virgin Mobile.

Earlier this month, NTL made an 817 million pound ($1.45 billion) bid for Virgin Mobile, a move that would enable it to offer "quadruple play" services: mobile and fixed telephony, Internet and television.

The Virgin Mobile board rejected the offer but downplayed the fact that it was about money. Virgin boss Richard Branson has said he believes that the two parties will be able to reach an agreement.

Sylvia Carr of Silicon.com reported from London.