Liberty Global plc (LBTYA)

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Liberty Global, Inc. (LBTYA)

Q2 2011 Earnings Call Transcript

August 3, 2011 10:00 am ET

Executives

Mike Fries - President and CEO

Bernie Dvorak - Co-CFO

Charlie Bracken - Co-CFO

Diederik Karsten - MD, European Broadband Business

Mauricio Ramos - President, Chile and Latin America

Balan Nair - CTO

Rick Westerman - IR, PR

Bob Leighton - SVP, Global Programming Business

Analysts

James Ratcliffe - Barclays Capital

David Joyce - Miller Tabak

Jeff Wlodarczak - Pivotal Research Group

Jason Bazinet - Citi

Hugh McCaffrey - Goldman Sachs

Matthew Harrigan - Wunderlich Securities

Ben Swinburne - Morgan Stanley

Henrik Herbst with Credit Suisse

Presentation

Operator

Welcome to Liberty Global’s Investor Call. This call and the associated webcast are the property of Liberty Global and any redistribution, retransmission or rebroadcast of this call or webcast in any form without the expressed written consent of Liberty Global is strictly prohibited.

At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Today’s formal presentation materials can be found under the Investor Relations section of Liberty Global’s website at www.lgi.com. Following today’s formal presentation, instructions will be given for a question-and-answer session. As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded on this date, August 3, 2011.

I would now like to turn the conference call over to Mr. Mike Fries, President and CEO of Liberty Global.

Mike Fries

Thank you and hello everybody. Appreciate you joining us. I know it's a busy morning in our space. We've got a large number of people on the call with us from management as we normally do. I'll just introduce a few of those, who you'll likely hear from. Bernie Dvorak and Charlie Bracken our Co-CFOs are on; Diederik Karsten, Managing Director of our European Broadband Business; Mauricio Ramos runs Chile and Latin America; Balan Nair, our Chief Technology Officer; Rick Westerman, of course from IR and PR; and then Bob Leighton, he's our kind of Global Programming Business.

I'm going to turn back over to the operator and then we'll get started.

Operator

Thank you. Page 2 of the slides details the company’s Safe Harbor statements regarding forward-looking statements. Today’s presentation may include forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including the Company’s expectation with respect to its outlook for 2011 and future growth prospects, and other information and statements that are not historical facts.

These forward-looking statements involve certain risks that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these statements. These risks include those detailed from time-to-time in Liberty Global's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its most recently filed Forms 10-K/A and 10-Q. Liberty Global disclaims any obligation to update any of these forward-looking statements to reflect any change in its expectations or in the conditions on which any such statement is based.

I would now like to turn the call back over to Mr. Mike Fries.

Mike Fries

Thanks. And if we refine the art of no surprises and in that way the agenda will look just like all of our previous calls. As I usually do, I'll start on Slide 4 with a quick snapshot of the quarter and cover our operating, financial and strategic priorities.

I think the bottomline here is that we had a really good quarter, beginning with subscriber growth, which continues to be the best part of our story. We had 235,000 net new RGUs in the second quarter and 486,000 year-to-date. And those numbers are up meaningfully, between 30% and 40% over last year.

I think it's important to point out that all of our core operating regions, the Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe and Chile performed well and are delivering more net adds in the first half of 2011, but then in the same period last year. We now serve 17.6 million unique customers, who in the aggregate subscribe to 28.3 million video, voice and broadband products from us.

I'll drill down on those numbers in a moment. I think the main point is that the demand for our digital television services, our superior broadband speeds and our triple-play bundles is very strong. As you might expect, our financial results reflect this trend. Our rebased operating cash flow was up 8%, our third consecutive quarter of improved growth. And rebased revenue was right where it's been for the last six quarters at mid-single digits.

Bernie is going to provide some more color, but you'll see pretty quickly that the engine, fuelling our performance is Western Europe, and in particular our largest market Germany. The $3.4 billion of consolidate cash, $4.6 billion of liquidity and a seven-year average debt maturity, our balance sheet remains in great shape.

Leverage is actually down a bit, as a result of retiring to in the money convert issues. But as we look at it, we're currently at 4.6 times gross and 3.6 times net, which is still right in our target range. Our buyback program is right on track and hit our guidance of $1 billion target by yearend, and we've got about I think less than $400 million remaining at this point.

And then finally just a few words on our M&A activity. Beginning with KBW, where it's been pretty widely reported that our acquisition has moved to a review stage in the German competition commission, something we actually expected. I'll just say that things are on schedule and we fully expect to seal the close in the fourth quarter.

We also announced a definitive agreement to sell Austar, for about 10 times operating cash flow. The deal requires both Australian regulatory approval and an IRS tax ruling. And if all goes as planned, we should complete that transaction in next year.

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