Liberty cuts debt as Germany drives growth
09.01 Europe/London, August 3, 2011 By Chris Dziadul

Liberty Global had an encouraging second quarter, slashing its debt from the $684 million (€480.8 million) recorded in the same period last year to $347 million. As in recent quarters, the company’s growth continued to be fuelled by its operations in Western Europe, though especially Germany, where it expects to close the KBW transaction in the fourth quarter.

Germany reinforced its position as the most lucrative market in the UPC Broadband Division in Q2, where Unitymedia posted revenues of $360.4 million ($293.9 million a year earlier), followed by the Netherlands with $327.7 million ($274.3 million) and Switzerland ($326.9 million).

Total revenues in Western Europe amounted to $1,242.7 million ($1,013.4 million), compared to $289 million ($240.1 million) in CEE.

Germany also had the highest operating cash flow in Q2 with $222.1 million ($169.0 million), while the respective figures for Western and CEE were $704.6 million and $141.8 million.

Germany accounted for almost half (43,800 out of 88,000) of new digital cable subscribers in Western Europe in Q2, though there was also strong growth in the Netherlands (+21,300).

Poland meanwhile claimed almost half (29,700 of 65,800) new digital cable subscribers in CEE in Q2 and the company notes that its cable subscriber losses in Romania were reduced.

The Romanian Focus Sat DTH operation gained 6,500 new subscribers in Q2, while its sisters service UPC Direct secured 2,300 and 2,100 more customers in Hungary and Slovakia respectively but lost 1,800 in the Czech Republic.

Commenting on the results and future developments, Liberty Global president and CEO Mike Fries said: “We remain highly focused on innovation and new product development, especially in our digital video business. The soft launch of our next-generation Horizon home gateway device is planned for Q4 in the Netherlands, together with our new online video service which will stream dozens of the best Dutch television channels and offer thousands of hours of on-demand content. We plan to introduce similar products in additional European markets next year beginning with UPC Cablecom in Switzerland.”