UPC Hungary, the local unit of US-based international cable services operator Liberty Global Inc, reported a difficult year in 2009, but says it emerged with its subscriber base relatively intact. Hungarian business newspaper Vilaggazdasag yesterday reported that UPC Hungary’s overall customer base remained strong in four out of five market segments, with only its analogue TV user base contracting 24.48% from 593,900 as at 31 December 2008, to 448,500 a year later. In its other business areas, the cablecos ended last year with 336,300 broadband internet subscribers, up 4.60% year-on-year, 252,700 voice telephony subscribers (up 11.86%), 186,000 DTH satellite TV users (+1.64%), and 157,400 digital CATV customers, compared to 79,400 at the end of 2008.
The paper quotes UPC Hungary’s chief executive officer Batzalel Kenigsztein as saying that his firm has implemented a restructuring programme aimed at increasing operating efficiency since he took on the role nine months ago, adding that UPC, which currently employs 1,500 people in the country, has only been forced to lay off 100 employees as part of the programme. Kenigsztein went on to say that UPC Hungary weathered a difficult financial year, complicated still further by Hungary enduring its worst economic downturn in nearly two decades, noting that his firm has still not signed off on its final 2009 financial results. UPC Hungary is keen to explore acquisition opportunities in the local market, with Kenigsztein remarking that talks have taken place with incumbent cellcos Vodafone Hungary and Pannon, concerning the setting up of a UPC-led mobile operation designed to cater for the nation’s growing mobile broadband market. The CEO told the paper that UPC Hungary has already invested EUR400 million (USD532 million) in Hungary, and intends to invest tens of millions more in the future.