Liberty Global aims to repeat the expansion plans recently announced by Virgin Media in other parts of Europe.
Speaking in a Skype call at the closing session of the first day of Cable Congress 2015, Mike Fries, the company’s president and CEO, added that it was “very excited” by Virgin’s UK plans, which would offer very high returns.
The company’s aim was to achieve 40% penetration of the UK homes it would expand to, with an ARPU of £50. Fries refused to be drawn on the possibility of Liberty Global buying the UK broadcaster ITV, in which it currently holds a minority stake. While he also did not elaborate on any other possible acquisitions, he revealed that they would probably take place in markets the company already operates in.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Fries also refused to be drawn on questions about Vodafone. However, he did say “their transactions have made a lot of sense” and Liberty prefers its business model to Vodafone’s.
Commenting on cable consolidation in general, Fries denied that Europe was behind the US. Liberty itself had spent $50 million in the last 10 years in Europe.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Fries dismissed suggestions Liberty regards Netflix as an enemy. Indeed, he didn’t think the company had enemies per se and found itself “quite aligned” with telcos in such areas as regulatory change.
Commenting on the importance of mobile for Liberty’s business, Fries said that it currently provides such services to 4.5 million subscribers, making $1.5 billion in revenues in the process. One in five of its customers in the UK and Belgium now opt for its mobile offer and in the UK’s case there is 75% less churn among quad-play subscribers.
When asked his views on net neutrality, Fries said, “what I struggle with is what are we trying to fix that is broken”.
The felt that recent developments in the US were an embarrassment and that the European approach the issue was more balanced.