Liberty Global reported a net loss of 74,900 video subscribers across Europe in the fourth quarter of 2018, compared to a loss of 31,600 in the same period a year previously. It lost a total of 160,400 video subscribers in 2018, compared to a loss of 50,100 the previous year. Among its continuing operations, half of its enhanced video customers are now in the United Kingdom.
Across its continuing operations, Liberty Global lost 45,200 enhanced video subscribers, and a further 29,700 basic video customers in the last quarter of 2018.
The largest video subscriber loss was in the United Kingdom, where its Virgin Media business lost 29,400 enhanced video subscribers in the last quarter of 2018, following nine consecutive quarterly gains, despite passing 144,000 new marketable premises through its project Lightning full fibre rollout.
Virgin Media ended 2018 with 3.87 million enhanced video customers in the United Kingdom, out of 5.51 million cable customers and 14.42 million homes passed. It has about 400,000 more video customers than it did a decade previously.
The company had a further 0.27 million enhanced video customers in Ireland, out of 0.44 million cable customers and 0.92 million homes passed.
Liberty Global lost a further 17,800 enhanced video subscribers in Belgium and 10,900 in Switzerland. There were modest gains in Poland, Ireland and Slovakia.
That left a total of 7.71 million enhanced video customers across its continuing operations, of which half were in the United Kingdom.
It had a further 1.78 million enhanced video subscribers in Belgium and 1.04 million in Poland, with a further 1.05 million across Switzerland, Ireland and Slovakia.
Liberty Global has been divesting some of its European markets. It agreed to sell its operations in Germany, Romania, Hungary, and the Czech Republic to Vodafone in May 2018, subject to regulatory approval, sold its operations in Austria at the end of July, and in late December agreed to sell its UPC satellite operations.
Among operations it is exiting, Liberty Global lost 19,700 enhanced video subscribers in Germany, offsetting gains in its other discontinued markets of Romania, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
In Germany, the Unitymedia operation had 1.61 million enhanced video subscribers at the end of 2018, and a further 4.68 million basic video customers.
Liberty Global chief executive Mike Fries, said: “The past fourteen months have been transformational for Liberty Global. After two decades of buying, building and growing world-class cable operations in Europe, we have announced or completed transactions in six of our twelve markets at premium valuations. Together these deals represent an aggregate enterprise value of $31 billion and net cash proceeds to the company, when completed, of $16 billion”
“After these transactions, in addition to a significant cash balance, a $2 billion strategic investment portfolio and over $2 billion in net tax assets, we will continue to be the largest cable operator in the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Poland and Slovakia.”