Telewest outshines bigger partner in maiden joint results announcement

1 Mar 2006

UK cable operators ntl and Telewest have announced their fourth quarter results jointly, ahead of a stockholder vote on the proposed merger of the two companies tomorrow. Telewest, which as the smaller of the two is due to be swallowed up by its former rival, reported the stronger operational results, posting 11% annual growth in revenue generating units (RGUs) up to 4.1 million compared to ntl’s 8% rise to 6.4 million. The number of Telewest users taking triple-play voice, internet and TV services increased 42% to account for 37.4% of all subscribers, compared to a 27% rise at ntl, with triple-play users accounting for 29% of its base at year end. Telewest added 78,900 new broadband subscribers in the three months ending 31 December 2005, to finish the year with 1.625 million users. ntl finished 2005 with 1.823 million high speed internet users, an increase of 103,300 over three months.

ntl said fourth-quarter revenue fell to GBP484.6 million (USD850.8 million), due in part to lower telephony usage by consumers and businesses, but its net loss narrowed to GBP56 million, from 73.6 million in 4Q04. ARPU slipped to GBP38.98 from 39.08 in the third quarter, and churn was flat at 1.5%. Telewest posted a 29% rise in revenues to GBP435 million and a slight narrowing of net loss, from GBP17 million in 4Q04 to GBP14 million in the final quarter of 2005. Its churn fell to 1.2% and ARPU was flat at GBP45.17. Shareholders of both companies will vote on the proposed merger on Thursday and if successful the company is expected to eventually adopt a new name, most likely leveraging the Virgin brand if ntl’s takeover bid for MVNO Virgin Mobile is accepted.

United Kingdom, Virgin Media