Liberty Global Quarterly Sales Decline as Dutch Unit Falters

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Liberty Global Plc reported a decline in second-quarter revenue as its Dutch unit Ziggo lost customers, highlighting the difficulties faced by billionaire John Malone’s European cable company in its hunt for growth.

The London-based company said Tuesday it lost 87,000 subscriptions in the Netherlands in part because of “operational challenges associated with our network” and competition. Liberty Global bought Ziggo last year for 4.9 billion euros ($5.3 billion).

Liberty Global is seeking growth from broadband customers as video loses ground to streaming and on-demand services. It’s also turning to TV-show production and mobile-phone services for new revenue sources after acquiring pay-TV companies over the past decade. It now owns cable and wireless providers from Hungary to the U.K.

“Strong demand for our triple- and quad-play bundles continues to support our results despite difficulties in the Netherlands, which continued to face competitive and integration challenges,” Chief Executive Officer Mike Fries said in a statement.

Overall, Liberty Global added 138,000 subscriptions for the period versus 180,000 predicted by analysts at Pivotal Research Group in New York.

Asset Swap

Sales fell 0.8 percent to $4.57 billion from a year earlier, matching the average of analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Net loss widened to $409.9 million from $241.2 million a year earlier.

Liberty Global is also in talks to exchange assets with wireless carrier Vodafone Group Plc, as the two companies move toward providing packages of Web, TV and mobile service.

Last week, Liberty Global increased its stake in U.K. broadcaster ITV Plc, which distributes shows such as “Downton Abbey.” In April, Liberty Global agreed to buy its first European wireless company, called Base, in Belgium. The deal gives Liberty control of a mobile-phone network, whereas in other countries it has to lease capacity from other carriers.

With Vodafone’s mobile assets, Liberty Global could expand its offers for “quad-play” services, combining TV, landline phone, broadband Internet and wireless service. In an interview with Bloomberg in May, Malone said a merger with Vodafone in Germany, the U.K. and the Netherlands would be attractive.

Shares of Liberty Global have advanced 11 percent this year in New York, giving the company a market value of $44 billion.

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