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Sales decline slows at Liberty Global's Swiss arm UPC

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ZURICH (Reuters) – UPC, the Swiss arm of telecoms company Liberty Global and target of a 6.3 billion Swiss franc (4.7 billion pounds) takeover bid by Sunrise Communications, reported a narrower 3.7 percent fall in revenue in the first quarter on Tuesday.

Revenue had contracted by 5.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018 and by 6.3 percent in the third.

“The development of the first quarter of 2019 confirms that the trend is heading in the right direction, that investments are paying off and that the measures are beginning to take effect,” UPCCEO Severina Pascu said.

Investors are watching UPC’s performance to see whether the Sunrise bid, to be funded by a rights issue, is properly valued.

UPC Switzerland’s results show as expected the positive trend for the company’s turnaround. We were able to recognise this during the (takeover) negotiations and want to drive this trend further after the transaction as well,” Sunrise finance chief Andre Krause told Reuters.

UPC said March sales hit a two-year high but did not provide details.

It added 13,000 mobile subscribers in the first quarter to reach 159,000 as UPC rolled out deals for unlimited surfing in Switzerland and cut-rate roaming fees in the European Union.

Customer satisfaction also increased amid a switch to using Swisscom’s mobile network, and was twice as high in March than it was on average in 2018, it said.

Sales to business customers rose 5.4 percent but it lost 23,000 television customers versus the end of 2018.

(Reporting by Michael Shields and Oliver Hirt, editing by Ed Osmond)

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