FRANKFURT, June 24 (Reuters) - Europe’s biggest cable company, Liberty Global, plans to focus on growing in the European markets where it is already active, its chief executive told Germany’s Handelsblatt.
“There are not many more markets, like Scandinavia, where we are not active. Spain, Portugal and France do not interest us,” Michael Fries said in an interview with the business daily at the Anga cable fair in Cologne earlier this month.
“We are concentrating on the 12 markets where we are already present,” he said. Liberty is active in 12 European markets as well as Chile and Puerto Rico.
Liberty - whose brands include Virgin Media in Britain and Ireland, Ziggo in the Netherlands and Unitymedia in Germany - is in talks with Britain’s Vodafone about exchanging selected assets, Vodafone said this month.
The two most important countries where the two overlap in cable and mobile telephony services are Britain and Germany. They also both operate in Ireland, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Romania.
Fries declined to comment on the talks with Vodafone.
He said Liberty Global did not need to buy other companies to grow in the markets where it already was.
“Our networks reach 50 million households in Europe. However, only 25 million households are customers of ours so far. We can tap the others without great additional costs.”
Asked whether Liberty would be interested in buying smaller German cable providers such as Telecolumbus, Pepcom or Primacom, Fries answered: “We could certainly look at these.”
Fries said Liberty was investing “insane amounts” in new platforms, brands and staff.
“If we were to sit back, we would grow by 1 percent a year. But we are moving forward and trying to grow 5 to 8 percent a year. For a company of our size, that’s pretty aggressive.” (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan, editing by William Hardy)