Liberty Global continues network transformation in Europe with Telenet/Fluvius partnership in Belgium
Denver, Colorado–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Liberty Global plc (“Liberty Global” or the “Company”) (NASDAQ: LBTYA, LBTYB and LBTYK) subsidiary Telenet Group Holding NV (“Telenet” – Euronext Brussels: TNET) and Fluvius System Operator (“Fluvius”) today concluded a very attractive and binding agreement to create the network of the future in Flanders.
The companies will incorporate a new independent and self-financed infrastructure company, “NetCo”, in which Telenet will hold 66.8% and Fluvius 33.2%. Combining the fixed network assets of both companies, NetCo will invest in the gradual evolution of its current Hybrid Fiber Coaxial (“HFC”) network to a Fiber to the Home (“FTTH”) network, targeting 78% of their footprint combined. in Flanders by 2038, either through direct construction or with external partners, or through wholesale agreements. NetCo will also focus on upgrading the existing Hybrid Fiber Coaxial (HFC) network using state-of-the-art DOCSIS technology where FTTH will not be deployed.
The key elements of the agreement are:
A fully funded and 5x leveraged NetCo will result in improved economics of ownership for Telenet as opposed to the current lease agreement where Telenet pays to access the Fluvius network which is 1/3 of the operational footprint of Telenet today.
NetCo will operate an open access network with market-leading utilization that is positioned to attract additional strategic and/or financial partners.
Over 50% of homes passed through NetCo’s footprint are very cost effective to switch to FTTH at an estimated cost per premises of around EUR 650.
The investment will be financed from NetCo’s strong cash flow as well as Telenet’s €745 million in revenue from its recent divestment of the tower, without being dependent on securing additional external financing.
At closing, Telenet’s pro forma net debt will decrease by approximately €500 million as Fluvious’s long-term emphyteutic lease will cease to exist. However, in order to maintain Telenet’s consolidated total net leverage of around 4x during the intense CAPEX building period, its dividend will be reset to a floor of EUR 1.00 with immediate effect. After the construction period, CAPEX intensity is expected to decrease significantly and return to normalized historical levels, resulting in substantial growth in adjusted free cash flow and providing the opportunity for significantly higher payouts for shareholders.
Telenet’s partnership with Fluvius is the latest development in the ongoing evolution of Liberty Global’s 10 Gigabit network strategies, utilizing a combination of the best available upgrade technologies, which also include:
Complete FTTH upgrade of Virgin Media O2’s fixed network in the UK, aiming to complete 16 million UK homes by 2028. Additionally, Liberty Global and Telefonica are seeking financial partners to create a new independent joint venture that will will accelerate full fiber deployment to seven million UK premises over the next five years.
FTTH upgrade across Virgin Media Ireland’s entire footprint, targeting 1 million FTTH households over the next 3 years.
VodafoneZiggo is currently moving forward with longer term HFC plans, including DOCSIS 4.0 in the Netherlands, with initial indicative costs at an attractive price of EUR 150-200 per household.
A hybrid approach in Switzerland, where Sunrise deploys a network strategy that integrates DOCSIS 3.1 and 4.0 upgrade technologies, wholesale and some fiber constructions. To support this, Sunrise recently renewed wholesale terms with Swisscom and SFN, providing long-term visibility on attractive access terms alongside the existing HFC network.
Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global, comments: “This partnership with Fluvius puts Telenet firmly in the lead in the Belgian market and consolidates NetCo as the undisputed kingmaker with a combined retail and wholesale market share of almost 60%.
“The partnership also highlights the effectiveness of our networking strategies. Using a combination of the best network upgrade technologies available, we are firmly on the path to delivering broadband speeds of up to 10 gigabytes in all of our markets. Nearly 100% of Liberty Global’s networks already offer gigabit speeds to customers today, with VodafoneZiggo expected to complete work to deliver gigabit speeds across its entire network by the end of this year. Our ongoing network development strategies will allow us to extend our leadership positions in each of our main European markets.
ABOUT LIBERTY GLOBAL
Liberty Global (NASDAQ: LBTYA, LBTYB and LBTYK) is a global leader in converged broadband, video and mobile communications services. We deliver next-generation products through advanced fiber and 5G networks, and currently provide over 85 million fixed and mobile* connections across Europe and the UK. Our business operates under some of the best-known consumer brands, including Virgin Media-O2 in the UK, VodafoneZiggo in the Netherlands, Telenet in Belgium, Sunrise in Switzerland, Virgin Media in Ireland and UPC in Slovakia. With our substantial scale and commitment to innovation, we’re building tomorrow’s connections today, investing in the infrastructure and platforms that enable our customers to make the most of the revolution. digital, while deploying the advanced technologies that nations and economies need to thrive.
Our consolidated businesses generate annual revenue of over $7.5 billion, while the VodafoneZiggo joint venture and VMO2 joint venture generate combined annual revenue of over $19 billion.**
Liberty Global Ventures, our global investment arm, has a portfolio of over 75 content, technology and infrastructure companies and funds, including strategic holdings in companies like ITV, Televisa Univision, Plume, Lionsgate and the Formula E racing series.
* Represents the total number of fixed and mobile subscribers consolidated and 50% owned non-consolidated. Includes VMO2 joint venture wholesale mobile subscribers and VodafoneZiggo joint venture B2B fixed subscribers.
** The above revenue figures are provided based on Liberty Global’s consolidated full year 2021 results (excluding revenue from the UK joint venture entities) and the combined full year 2021 results reported for the VodafoneZiggo joint venture and estimated results under US GAAP for the year 2021 for the VMO2 joint venture. For more information, please visit www.libertyglobal.com.