Optical/IP Networks

Liberty Global Q2 slowdown in customer net add

Liberty Global, a keen advocate of the fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) business model, posted a fairly robust set of Q2 figures for its European operations.

The eyebrow-raising but was a slowdown in net customer additions. Liberty Global mustered 2,400 net additions in Q2 compared with 7,700 the same quarter the year before. The main customer gains were in the UK, via Virgin Media O2 (13,300), and a combined 2,600 net customer increase in Poland and Slovakia. Liberty Global markets elsewhere registered network customer losses.

Belgium was the worst performer in absolute numbers, with a 6,300 contraction to the subscriber base, followed by customer losses in Switzerland (3,900) and Ireland (3,300). On the flipside, there was an upward 14.1% swing in reported revenue, to $3.1 billion (although some media outlets said this was a revenue miss). Adjusted EBITDA was up 5.4%, again on a reported basis, to $1.25 billion.

Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries, in prepared remarks, seemed ebullient enough: "Our advanced fiber and 5G networks connected 87 million subscribers across Europe at June 30, currently generating consolidated annual revenue of more than $7 billion," purred Fries, "while our joint-ventures in the UK [Virgin Media O2] and the Netherlands [VodafoneZiggo] produced combined annual revenue of more than $17 billion."

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He claimed that Liberty Global offered its shareholders "unmatched exposure to the leading FMC platforms across Europe."

During Q2, Liberty Global said it added around 140,000 FMC subscriptions across its European footprint, presumably based mainly on cross-selling given the relatively low number of customer net adds.

In an attempt to burnish its FMC credentials in the UK, and no doubt to try and cast a shadow over BT’s latest quarterly results, Liberty Global announced yesterday that Virgin Media O2, its recently approved joint venture with Spain ‘s Telefonica, intends to expand its fiber network to more than 14 million homes and businesses over the next seven years.

Iliad makes bid for UPC Poland

On presentation of Q2 results, Liberty Global confirmed it had received a non-binding offer to acquire 100% of its UPC Poland business at 9.3x estimated adjusted EBITDA for FY21. France-based Iliad, which recently bought Polish mobile operator Play, confirmed it had made the offer.

"In line with our ambition to become a true convergent player in Poland, we’re currently looking at different options on our broadband activity," Iliad’s chief executive Thomas Reynaud, as reported by Reuters, said in a call with investors.

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— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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