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Liberty Global meets targets in pandemic year

Mike Fries

Liberty Global rounded out 2020 meeting its quarterly guidance after a difficult year.

The operator reported annual revenue of US$11.98 billion, up 3.8% year-over-year. This was largely buoyed by a positive Q4, in which revenue increased 14.9% year-over-year 

Overall, the company saw modest underlying revenue gains in the UK, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium. The group added a total of 56,000 new fixed line customers for the quarter and a total of 81,000 adds for the year. This is compared to negative performance in 2019, when Liberty dropped 73,9000 customers.

The UK saw the most successful growth, with the addition of 41,7000 customers for the quarter. CEE meanwhile added 21,000 subs while Belgium and Switzerland lost 1,000 and 5,800 respectively. 

In terms of broadband, Liberty added 100,700 customers in the quarter and 242,000 for the year. It said that both Virgin and UPC Switzerland achieved their most positive growth since 2017, with mobile also performing well. 

For video services, Liberty charted 8.36 million customers with a total of 7.609 million taking enhanced video services. Virgin leads the way for enhanced video services, likely buoyed by the recent launch of the TV 360 platform, with 3.498 million. The UK operator however did see a negative churn of 27,500 enhanced video subscribers for the year, but Virgin will hope that this path can be amended as TV 360 continues to expand.

In total, Liberty ended 2020 with a total of 26.296 million customers.

Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries said: “2020 was a transformational year in which we announced highly accretive transactions in Switzerland and the UK, creating fixed-mobile champions in two of our core markets and unlocking nearly US$11 billion of synergies on an NPV basis.

“Despite the impact of the COVID-19 virus, we were able to meet or exceed all guidance metrics in 2020.”

Fries however warned that 2021 will likely see “substantial costs” as a result of the integration of Sunrise with UPC in Switzerland and when the merger between Virgin Media and O2 is completed in mid-2021.