Liberty Global on track for Sunrise spin-off amid mixed Q1

Liberty Global office in Denver, Colorado, USA


Liberty Global has said it was on track with its plan to spin off Swiss operator Sunrise by the fourth quarter in line with the strategy the company unveiled in January.

The confirmation comes as Liberty Global reported Q1 numbers that saw it report a small increase in revenue but a decline in adjusted EBITDA, and ongoing customer losses.

The company posted revenues of US$1.945 billion for the quarter, up 4.1%. However, adjusted EBITDA declined by 6.8% to US$581.4 million.

Both the uplift in revenue and the decline in EBITDA came primarily from Liberty’s CEE and other operations segment, with Dutch JV VodafoneZiggo seeing a significant rise in adjusted EBITDA.

Liberty Global’s operating companies continued to lose customer, with VodafoneZiggo particularly badly hit, with the loss of 35,200 customers. The Dutch operation saw its broadband base decline by 23,500 in the quarter, which Liberty said an improvement on the decline for the fourth quarter of last year.

The company said Belgian unit Telenet also lost customers during the quarter due to the “intensely competitive market environment’.

Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries said that the company’s “financial performance in Q1 was in line with expectations, highlighted by the return to strong Adjusted EBITDA growth in the Netherlands and the return to positive broadband net adds in Switzerland”.

He said that Liberty remained “on track to meet our full-year 1 2024 guidance metrics across all OpCos, with price adjustments recently announced in the U.K., the Netherlands and Belgium to support our financial targets.”

Liberty announced plans to spin off 100% of Switzerland’s Sunrise in February in a move Fries said “aims to maximize shareholder value by unlocking the fully distributed value of Sunrise over time, supported by Sunrise’s fully integrated FMC challenger position, attractive growth outlook, excellent expected cash generation and experienced management team”.

The move was one of a series of strategic initiatives underlined by the company, including a plan to create a new netco from Virgin Media O2’s infrastructure assets, including its legacy cable network, that will be intended as a national competitor to Openreach.

Liberty said at the time that it also plans to create a new holding company for its Belgian asset Telenet and its half of the VodafoneZiggo JV in the Netherlands – something that may presage at a later date a move in ownership of the latter, although no announcement has yet been made regarding that.

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