Liberty Global boosts triple-play base, hit by Romanian losses

Over 40% of pan-European cable operator Liberty Global’s cable TV subscriber base now takes digital services.

Liberty Global reported organic additions of 169,000 revenue-generating units in the second quarter. Excluding its recent Unitymedia acquisition, the operator acquired 96,000 RGUs. Liberty Global did however lose 108,000 video RGUs in the quarter, largely due to competition in the Romanian market, where it lost 41,000 subscribers. The company added 267,000 digital TV customers in the same period, driven by additions in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Poland.

Liberty Global had 17.7 million customers at the end of the quarter, taking a total of 27.3 million services, including 16.9 million video, 6.1 million broadband and 4.3 million telephony RGUs. Excluding Unitymedia, 20% of the operator’s base take triple-play services, while 40% take more than one product.

The company posted revenues of US$2.17bn (€1.4bn), representing 5% rebased growth or 20% consolidated growth. Operating income grew by 120% to US$327m. Adjusted free cash flow for the second quarter was US$62m.

The operator added 544,000 “advanced service” RGUs in the second quarter, up 15% year-on-year, driven by a 59% increase in broadband subscriber additions. Liberty Global added 260,000 HD TV customers in the quarter.

President and CEO Mike Fries said that the company expected to accelerate its organic RGU additions in the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter, and said that Liberty would continue to take an “opportunistic approach to M&A and capital structure management which, with our substantial liquidity position, we are well-positioned to do.”

Liberty Global’s Swiss subsidiary Cablecom meanwhile said it grew its digital TV customer base to 415,000, up 4% quarter-on-quarter. Broadband customers numbered 496,000, up 1% on the previous quarter. Revenues were up 0.5% to CHF277m (€202m).