Liberty loses out, despite solid performance

7 Aug 2014

London-based Liberty Global has booked revenues of USD9.136 billion for the first six months of 2014, up from USD5.730 billion in the corresponding period of 2013, although rebased growth – taking into consideration pre-acquisition turnover from entities acquired in the six months to end-2013, primarily Virgin Media (taken over on 7 June 2013) – was 3% year-on-year, driven by increases in revenue generating units (RGUs) and positive foreign currency movements. RGUs totalled 48.91 million at end-June 2014, up 2.9% y-o-y, although total customers actually dipped to 24.471 million from 24.474 million leading to a net increase in RGUs per customer relationship, from 1.94 at end-June 2013 to 2.00. As such the proportion of customers taking multi-play packages has improved overall: 41.9% of users took triple-play plans compared to 39.0% twelve months previously, although double-play subscriptions dipped by 0.3 percentage points to 16.0%. Similarly, ARPU per customer relationship has improved, bolstered particularly in Europe by positive foreign exchange movements. ARPU expanded to USD50.09 from USD40.74, an increase of 23.0%, or 18.6% excluding forex changes.

Despite the improvements in performance, the group registered net losses of USD328.7 million for the six-month period, compared to losses of USD12.6 million a year earlier. Liberty attributed the net loss to losses on derivative instruments – which totalled USD705.2 million, compared to gains of USD192.1 million in the year-ago period – offsetting a USD333 million gain on the January 2014 sale of Chellomedia.

United Kingdom, Liberty Global