Liberty Global sales decline as €4.9bn Dutch unit falters

The owner of UPC in Ireland, Liberty Global, has reported a decline in second-quarter revenue as its Dutch unit Ziggo lost customers, highlighting the difficulties for billionaire John Malone’s European cable company in its hunt for growth.

Liberty Global sales decline as €4.9bn Dutch unit falters

Liberty said it lost 87,000 subscriptions in the Netherlands in part because of “operational challenges associated with our network” and competition.

Liberty bought Ziggo last year for €4.9bn.

The company is seeking growth from broadband customers as video loses ground to streaming and on-demand services. It’s also turning to TV show production and mobile phone services for new revenue.

UPC said it had over 1.09m “service subscriptions” in Ireland at the end of June, up 1% from a year earlier.

Overall, Liberty Global added 138,000 subscriptions for the period versus 180,000 predicted by analysts at Pivotal Research Group in New York. Sales fell 0.8% to $4.57bn (€4.17bn) from a year earlier. Net loss widened to $409.9m from $241.2m.

Liberty is also in talks to exchange assets with wireless carrier Vodafone. UPC plans later this year to offer mobile phone services in Ireland after signing an agreement with Three Ireland last year.

Last week, Liberty Global increased its stake in UK broadcaster ITV. In Ireland, Liberty is on course to complete the acquisition of TV3. In an interview with Bloomberg in May, Mr Malone said a merger with Vodafone in Germany, the UK and the Netherlands would be attractive.

Bloomberg. Further reporting from Irish Examiner

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