Liberty Global to look at new public listings next year, mulls UK infrastructure options

Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries has given a strong indication that the company may pursue stock market listings of individual company units next year to increase the overall value of its assets.

Liberty Global CEO, Mike Fries

Speaking to analysts after the company announced solid Q3 numbers at the end of last week Fries said that Liberty had “talked from time to time about public listings as a way of unlocking value, and we may pursue some of those strategies in 2022”.

Fries said “no decisions have been made” on whether to bring in outside investors as part of a spin-off of its UK infrastructure following the company’s decision to commit to upgrading to XGS-PON fibre-to-the-premises rather than DOCSIS 4 by 2028. He said that no decision had yet been take on whether to open up the network to wholesale customers either.

Liberty’s part-owned Belgian subsidiary Telenet has already committed to create a jointly owned ‘NetCo’ with partner Fluvius, which already owns and leases back about one third of the cable operator’s existing network.

Fries said that Liberty’s existing Project Lightning build out in the UK was continuing “to roll along” without a wholesale offering, but that any extension of the fibre build-out outside the existing footprint could require more serious consideration of a wholesale play or outside investors.

While Liberty is under some competitive pressure to up its commitment to a UK fibre build-out, Fires was insistent that the company would only do so if it made financial sense and pointed out that it took time to get outside investors onboard for any new infrastructure company.

“Virgin Media O2 doesn’t need to expand its network to be competitive and successful. It would consider expanding the network if that created additional and incremental value for shareholders,” he said.

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