Liberty Global Q3 “balance sheet in great shape”

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Liberty Global has published its Q3 2020 financial results showing customer growth and improved free cash flow.

CEO Mike Fries commented: “As the Covid-19 pandemic has altered the way we all work and live, our fibre-rich networks continue to deliver seamless connectivity that has never been more crucial. During the quarter we continued to see strong demand for our high-speed connectivity products, adding 37,000 new customer relationships and over 70,000 broadband subscribers, our best quarterly result in over three years. The combination of our market-leading broadband speeds, next-generation video platforms and attractive mobile offerings drove our performance.”

“In addition to solid fixed-line trends, our strategy of driving fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) continues to pay off. During Q3, we added 127,000 post-paid mobile subscribers, which represents our best quarterly performance of 2020. At the end of September, our blended FMC penetration increased to 25 per cent, including 23 per cent at Virgin Media and UPC Switzerland. After completion of our pending mobile transactions in each of these markets, we believe both businesses can grow convergence toward the mid-40 per cent levels over time, similar to our current FMC penetration in Belgium and the Netherlands.”

“In the UK, we are making progress with regulators on our joint venture with Telefonica’s O2 and continue to expect a mid-2021 completion. Our acquisition of Sunrise in Switzerland is now set to close mid-November after over 96 per cent of shares were tendered and the deal was approved by Swiss regulators.”

“Our financial results were modestly impacted by the pandemic during the quarter. Rebased revenue declined 1 per cent year-over-year, a result which included approximately $40 million (€33.9m) in low margin Covid-19 related factors. And as expected, our rebased Adjusted EBITDA declined 5 per cent in the period, including 3 per cent and 10 per cent contractions at Virgin Media and UPC Switzerland, respectively. Meanwhile, our capital intensity continues to decline and is now below 20 per cent excluding our Project Lightning new build programme in the UK, which helped drive a $440 million year-over-year improvement in FCF.”

“Despite continued uncertainty regarding the medium-term impact from Covid-19, we are reaffirming all of our original, full-year guidance metrics. Our balance sheet remains in great shape with over $9 billion of total liquidity, an average tenor exceeding 7 years and a fully-swapped borrowing cost of 4.1 per cent for the Full Company. And we continued to be active purchasers of our own shares, having bought back $1 billion in stock this year through October. Also, our Board of Directors has authorised a new $1 billion share repurchase plan,” concluded Fries.

Q3 Highlights

  • Q3 reported revenue increased 4 per cent; rebased revenue decreased 1.3 per cent to $2,954.5 million
  • Q3 loss from continuing operations increased 266 per cent YoY to $973.6 million
  • Q3 Adjusted EBITDA decreased 0.2 per cent on a reported basis and 5 per cent rebased to $1,209.2 million
  • Q3 property & equipment additions were 22.3 per cent of revenue as compared to 23.2 per cent in Q3 2019
  • Built 158,000 new premises during Q3, including 125,000 in the UK & Ireland
  • Solid balance sheet with $9.3 billion of liquidity for the Full Company
    • Comprised of $3.8 billion of cash, $3 billion of investments held under separately managed accounts (SMAs) and $2.5 billion of unused borrowing capacity
  • Gross and net leverage of 5.4x and 4x, respectively, on a Full Company basis
  • Fully-swapped borrowing cost of 4.1 per cent on debt balance of $27.6 billion for the Full Company
  • Repurchased $1 billion of stock through the end of October

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