UPC losses hit €78.8m as it ploughs money into network upgrade
UPC Communications Ireland -- the company that provides television, broadband and telephone services across the country -- saw its losses widen to €78.8m last year from €63.6m in 2008 as it continued to plough money into a network upgrade project that still has just over a year to run.
Turnover at the group, which has been aggressively trying to poach broadband and telephone customers from Eircom, rose just over 4pc to €250.2m.
Revenue from its television and broadband services, previously branded as NTL and Chorus, dipped slightly to €223.4m from €223.5m a year earlier; while its revenue from telephone services jumped 61pc to €26.7m.
Chief executive Robert Dunn told the Irish Independent that the accounts for last year include continuing amortisation of UPC's acquisitions here to the tune of €34.4m as well as a depreciation charge of €76.5m for the period, both of which impact the bottom line. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were steady at €76.3m compared to €75m in 2008.
He added that the unit's parent, Liberty Global, remains satisfied with the company's performance in Ireland and that the subsidiary has "exceeded expectations" in terms of luring customers to its telephony and broadband services.
Mr Dunn, who is leaving Ireland in January to take up a new position as chief executive of UPC Netherlands, said that an increasing number of UPC's customers in Ireland have been opting to combine their services with the company but added that the firm will probably wait until its capital upgrade is completed before looking to introduce offerings such as movies on demand.
Mr Dunn conceded that on a macro economic level 2009 had been a very tough one for the Irish economy which fed into people's spending decisions on items such as television, broadband and telephone subscriptions. While he declined to say what revenue levels the company might reach in the current financial year, it's likely the figure will have risen by around 10pc based on earlier indications from Liberty Global on the performance of the Irish operation.