Liberty Global Q1: ‘Momentum continues’

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Liberty Global has revealed its Q1 2021 financial results which show that its convergence strategy added +80,000 broadband and +146,000 post-paid mobile subscribers.

CEO Mike Fries stated: “As we continue to execute through the challenges of Covid-19, we’re hopeful that better and safer times lie ahead for our employees and our customers. While the well-being of our people and our customers’ connectivity experience remain our most important priorities, we’re encouraged by the operational progress made during the first quarter of 2021, allowing us to carry forward the momentum we built last year.”

“Continued execution of our convergence strategy fuelled a 3 per cent improvement in our aggregate FMC penetration rate. We also generated continued growth in new customers, adding 38,000 relationships during the quarter. Clearly, consumer appetite for our broadband and converged products remains robust. Meanwhile our network reach expanded by 113,000 new homes built in Q1, now totalling 3.9 million to date, paving the way for additional relationships to be formed.”

“During the quarter, rebased  revenue increased 0.2 per cent, including adverse Covid impacts of around 0.6 per cent primarily stemming from lower mobile roaming and usage revenue. Rebased Adjusted EBITDA declined 1.7 per cent for the quarter, including the impact of $19 million costs to capture , while rebased OFCF increased 5 per cent resulting from a 210 basis point decline in capital intensity year-over-year.”

“In Switzerland, commercial ‘Day 1’ launched in March, a watershed moment which marked the beginning of Sunrise UPC operating as one company while best-in-market offerings helped create customer awareness of the merger. Operational momentum continues to strengthen with broadband and post-paid mobile growth of 56,000 subscribers in Q1 as we execute our convergence strategy, prioritise B2B growth and begin to generate synergies.

“In the UK, Virgin Media demonstrated solid operational execution. We successfully landed a 4 per cent price rise in March and delivered our best customer adds in a price-rise quarter since Q4 2016. We also saw record-low Q1 cable churn, strong growth in fixed-mobile converged bundles and a four-fold YoY boost in new broadband subscribers. Looking ahead to the VM-O2 joint venture, the UK regulator provisionally approved the combination in April and, subject to their final approval, it’s expected to close in June. We recently confirmed our intention to appoint Lutz Schüler of Virgin Media as CEO, and Patricia Cobian of O2 as CFO, once regulatory approval is granted. Together they are building a strong, diverse and dynamic team that will bring more choice, more value and world-class innovation to over 46 million fixed and mobile connections across the UK.”

“We are reaffirming all of our original, full-year guidance metrics, including $1.35 billion of Adjusted Free Cash Flow(i) representing 26 per cent YoY growth. Our balance sheet remains strong with $2.9 billion(ii) of cash and $5.8 billion of liquidity to drive future value creation. We continue to be aggressive buyers of our stock this year, having repurchased $447 million through the end of April.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to note that we demonstrated our continued dedication to sustainability in Q1 by becoming a founding member of the European Green Digital Coalition. As a result, we’ve committed to establishing science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and becoming climate neutral no later than 2040. Digital technologies have a huge role to play in the fight against climate change, and we look forward to utilising our networks and expertise to help deliver a greener, more sustainable future.”

Q1 Highlights:

  • Q1 revenue increased 25.7 per cent YoY on a reported basis and increased 0.2 per cent on a rebased basis to $3.61 billion
  • Q1 net earnings increased 41.5 per cent YoY to $1.44 billion
  • Q1 Adjusted EBITDA increased 18.9 per cent YoY on a reported basis and decreased 1.7 per cent on a rebased basis to $1.3673 billion
  • Q1 property & equipment additions were 20.7 per cent of revenue, as compared to 22.8 per cent in Q1 2020
  • FMC penetration increased to 29 per cent from 23 per cent in Q1 2020
  • Built 113,000 new premises during Q1, including 80,000 in the UK & Ireland
  • Solid balance sheet with $5.8 billion of liquidity for the Full Company
  • Comprised of $0.9 billion of cash, $2.0 billion of investments held under SMAs and $2.9 billion of unused borrowing capacity
  • Gross and net leverage of 5.6x and 5.1x, respectively, on a Full Company basis
  • Fully-swapped borrowing cost of 4.2 per cent on a debt balance of $30.9 billion for the Full Company
  • Repurchased $447 million of stock through April 30th

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