Liberty Global has reported its full year 2019 and Q4 2019 financial results. FY and Q4 revenue decreased 0.6 per cent and 0.5 per cent, respectively. Q4 residential cable revenue decreased 0.9 per cent YoY to $1.9 billion.
CEO Mike Fries stated: “2019 was a transformational year on many fronts. In July, we sold our operations in Germany, Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic to Vodafone for over $21 billion. We are now geographically concentrated in five attractive Western European markets, while enjoying substantial financial firepower with over $11 billion of total liquidity. Technologically, we continued to push the boundaries of our fibre-rich HFC networks by accelerating our gigabit broadband rollouts to more European homes and businesses. As a result, millions of our customers currently have access to 1 gigabit download speeds, far surpassing what our competitors are able to offer across the vast majority of our footprint.”
“In the UK, our largest market, our focus on fixed-mobile convergence drove record mobile subscription growth in 2019. Last fall, we announced a transformational MVNO deal with Vodafone, which will allow Virgin Media to launch 5G mobile speeds. Combined with our fixed-line gigabit broadband speeds, our cutting-edge FMC bundles place us in an enviable position as we continue to extend the reach of our network with Project Lightning. And while we expect some unavoidable headwinds in 2020, we believe the medium-term outlook in the UK remains attractive, especially as we evaluate strategic options for value creation. From a leadership perspective, we recently appointed Severina Pascu as CFO and Deputy CEO of Virgin Media, and expect her depth of operating expertise to make a significant impact over the coming years,” Fried added.
Virgin Media delivered 14.6 million broadband, video and fixed-line telephony services to 6 million cable customers and mobile services to 3.3 million subscribers at December 31st 2019. Q4 cable ARPU grew 1.6 per cent driving 1.3 per cent revenue growth to £1.3 billion.
The customer base increased by 7,000 in 2019, despite a 9,000 customer loss in Q4 when growth from new build areas was Liberty says was offset by attrition in non-Lightning footprint as competitor discounting increased.
Virgin Media Television remains the largest commercial broadcaster in the Republic of Ireland with a 16 per cent share in viewership across our three free-to-air channels.
Fries continued: “In Switzerland, we are encouraged by the continued success of our turnaround plan. In January, we announced the appointment of Baptiest Coopmans as the incoming CEO of UPC Switzerland. He brings a wealth of experience to this important role. Meanwhile, we continue to believe the Swiss market remains ripe for fixed-mobile convergence over the medium term, and in addition to our organic growth, we will consider other strategic options in due course.”
“Looking ahead to 2020, for the full year we are forecasting a mid-single-digit rebased1 OCF decline, mid-single-digit rebased1 OFCF growth and approximately $1 billion of Adjusted FCF2, which represents 30 per cent year-over-year growth. Also, our Board of Directors has authorized a new $1 billion share repurchase plan,” he concluded.