What does the future hold in store for Liberty Global’s operation in Poland?
Now only one of two left in the CEE region following the sale of its interests in Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic to Vodafone, it is, according to Liberty’s CEO Mike Fries, likely to see “continued transformation…whatever that may look like” before the end of this year.
Fries was speaking in call following the publication of Liberty’s results earlier this month and made the point that UPC Polska is the number two player relative to the incumbent. As a result, Liberty finds itself in a different position when looking at such markets – he was also referring to Ireland – strategically.
Fries continued by saying: “of course we’re going to continue to evaluate what the right long-term future for those markets is in terms of their strategic footprint and whether there’s a fixed mobile opportunity, etc., so you should assume that that’s high on our list”.
Although UPC Polska’s position has recently been diminished by its failure to acquire Multimedia Polska – the latter’s new owner Vectra is now the leading cable operator in Poland in subscriber number terms – it is still a hugely important player in the Polish marketplace. It is also growing, as evidenced by its performance across-the-board in 2020.
This saw the company pass the 1.5 million customer mark, gaining the most (41,200) in five years. Its digital RGU total increased by nearly 100,000 and the churn rate was the lowest in four years. UPC Polska was also the first Liberty operation in Europe to introduce the innovative UPC 4K TV Box to its subscribers.
While this growth is likely to continue in 2021, predicting the deal/s Liberty Global will strike over its future is difficult. There was a stage following the sale of its Hungarian, Romanian and Czech operations when it seemed those in Poland and Slovakia would follow soon after. While that clearly hasn’t happened, changes lie ahead.
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