UPC still some way from profit

10 Jan 2003

UPC [NYSE: UPC], one of the largest cable television operators in Europe, has announced that it does not expect to move into profit in the foreseeable future despite the imminent completion of a debt-for-equity swap intended to erase two-thirds of the company’s EUR10.4 billion debt. The Dutch group, which has more than eight million subscribers throughout 17 markets in Europe, has never posted an annual profit and last month filed for bankruptcy protection in the US and the Netherlands, marking the beginning of a massive restructuring program. UPC’s heavy debts were amassed through an aggressive expansion policy that has now been tempered as the company has shifted its focus away from attracting new customers to concentrate on improving the profitability of its existing subscriber base. John Malone’s Liberty Media [NYSE: L], already the controlling shareholder in UPC, is expected to strengthen its hold over the operator through the debt restructuring. UPC hopes to emerge from bankruptcy protection by the end of March.