Europe shines as Liberty Global grows in strength

Liberty Global

Liberty Global boss Mike Fries hailed the performance of the company’s European opcos as they sold just shy of one million new services last year.

The number of broadband, telephony, TV and video services sold in 2016 grew 24 percent to 946,000, Liberty revealed.

Virgin Media was picked out for its best quarterly performance in two years for the three months to December, based on operating cash flow growth of eight percent.

Revenues in the UK and Ireland business rose 2.6 percent to £4.8 billion in 2016 as a whole, as a 9.5 percent decline in mobile subscription sales failed to offset rises in other areas, notably broadband.

The total number of services sold increased from 13.8 million last year to 14.1 million at the end of December 2016.

In total, the number of cable-based customers grew by over 130,000 to 5.7 million, while the mobile subscriber base was broadly flat at just over three million.

Virgin said it had ramped up its Project Lightning network build out programme, which aims to increase its footprint by four million homes by 2019, passing 215,000 premises in the fourth quarter of last year alone.

Tom Mockridge, Virgin Media CEO, said: “2016 was an important year for Virgin Media.

“We re-launched Virgin TV, transformed Virgin Mobile, ramped up our Project Lightning network expansion and signed more businesses.”

[Read more: Virgin Media UK zero-rates WhatsApp and Facebook on new 4G network]

Elsewhere in Liberty Global’s footprint, Germany-based Unitymedia made a net loss of €90 million, up from €32 million in 2015, due in part to writedowns and increased fees of third-party debt.

However, revenues grew 5.2 percent to €2.3 billion last year after its customer base grew by 18,000 to 7.2 million.

UPC, which is active in seven countries across Europe, registered a 2.5 percent increase in sales to €2.6 billion.

The total subscriber base was broadly flat at 6.8 million.

Including Liberty Global’s activities in the Caribbean and Latin America, group revenues grew 2.5 percent to $17.3 billion.

Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries said: “Looking ahead, we will continue to enrich our bundled portfolios with compelling 4G mobile offers and the addition of new content and functionality, including the launch of Netflix across our footprint.

“We will also expand the deployment of exciting new products like our 4K cloud-based set-top and our WiFi Connect Box.

“Also, in late 2017, we will start field trials of the unrivaled DOCSIS 3.1 technology, which will provide gigabit speeds.”
 
Read more: Virgin Media’s Mr TV talks talent, targets and telcos

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