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Liberty Global boasts biggest net customer adds in over two years

US cable giant Liberty Global appears to be weathering the COVID-19 storm fairly well. Adjusted EBITDA in Q2 was down only 0.2%, year-on-year, to $1.19 billion.

Turnover fell 4.5%, over the same period, to $2.72 billion.

Liberty Global pinned some of the blame here on unfavorable swings in foreign currency exchange, as well as the cancellation of certain sporting events in the UK.

The company nonetheless reaffirmed its original full-year guidance metrics.

"Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to effectively navigate through these unprecedented times," asserted CEO Mike Fries.

He went on to claim that the balance "remains in great shape" with $9.8 billion of total liquidity for the full company.

In terms of net customer and broadband additions, Fries said it was the best performance in over two years.

Largely thanks to growing popularity of Virgin Media's fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) bundles in the UK, Liberty Global reported overall net customer additions of 7,700.

Virgin Media racked up 23,900 customer net gains – the best result in four years – compared to a net loss of 5,600 during Q2 2019. FMC penetration in the UK stands at 23%.

Operations in Switzerland and Belgium continued to suffer net customer losses – 16,400 and 2,900 respectively – but this was an improvement on Q2 2019 (18,100 and 8,200).

Much of the improvement, said Fries, was helped by increased customer satisfaction. Net promoter scores were apparently at "record highs" across the majority of Liberty Global's footprint.

Even so, there was a sharp Q2 loss from continuing operations of 48%, to $504 million, year-on-year.

If Light Reading is interpreting it right from the somewhat convoluted wording, there seems to have been some outstanding Q2 costs associated with the discontinued UPC Holding operations in Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic.

There was no hard news from the official Q2 statement about the proposed merger between Virgin Media and mobile network operator Telefónica UK, which operates under the O2 brand.

"We are making great progress with pre-merger planning for our announced combination," said Fries, "and are working closely with the European Commission and UK regulators to ensure a smooth review of the transaction."

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— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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