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Losses widen at ntl, outperformed by Telewest

# 1 March 2006, 10:34 by Frank

UK cable company ntl has reported a deeper net loss for the last three months of 2005, ahead of the completion of its merger with Telewest. Telewest, which has been the better performer of the two, had a net loss of £14 million ($24.38 million) on revenues of £435 million ($757.45 million), compared with last year’s net loss of £17 million ($29.6 million) on revenues of £336 million ($585.06 million).

ntl reported a net loss of £56.2 million (US$97.86 million) on revenues of £485 million ($844.51 million). That compares with a net loss of £73.6 million ($128.16 million) on 5.4 percent higher revenues of £512 million ($891.53 million) in the fourth quarter last year.

On a conference call with analysts, ntl executives said that aside from some unexpected charges related to bad debt and vacant leasehold property, ntl’s results were in line with expectations, while Telewest experienced its best quarter in four years.

Both operators added just over 20,000 net subscribers during the quarter, but ntl’s revenues were affected by falling telephone usage. Average revenue per user (ARPU) slipped from £39.08 ($68.05) to £38.98 ($67.87), while Telewest’s ARPU remained flat at £45.17 ($78.65).

Interestingly, CEO Stephen Burch said ntl will be moving to Telewest’s billing platform sooner than planned. The combination of three billing systems it uses now “doesn’t give the customer care and information that we need,” despite ntl investing £9.8 million ($18.0 million) into their “Harmony” billing system integration programme (Q1 2004 results).

Telewest will be on a single billing platform by mid-2006, and Burch expects both networks to be on the same system in 14 to 15 months instead of three years. We shall see :)

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