UK cable network operator, NTL today (Jan 31) ended weeks of speculation by formally appointing financial advisers to help it renegotiate the debt burden that had become a concern within the investment community.

The company, which is currently valued at $120m, has debts of about $17bn. The majority of this is in the form of bonds and it is widely expected that the company will try to persuade bond holders to convert their holdings into shares. This would radically shake up the ownership structure of the company and potentially impact on that of the whole European cable sector. NTL's bonds are currently trading at about a third of their face value.

The new advisers are Credit Suisse First Boston, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley.

Speculation in the last weeks about NTL's looming debt talks has weighed heavily on the shares of fellow UK operator Telewest and of Dutch outfit UPC, which is majority owned by Liberty Media.

NTL shares yesterday bounced 15% to $0.45.