General able to cut cable losses

MATHEW HORSMAN

General Cable, the sixth-largest UK cable operator, yesterday unveiled narrower losses in the first six months of pounds 9.4m, down from pounds 10.5m last time, on revenues up 70 per cent to pounds 40.9m.

The company, which analysts consider to be among the better-run in the embryonic cable sector, also announced a drop in the "churn" rate - the percentage of subscribers who disconnect - to 30 per cent from 40 per cent for cable television. Residential telephony churn was down to 18 per cent from 23 per cent.

Churn rates were slightly worse quarter-on-quarter in the first half, however, due in part to prices rises in Yorkshire and Birmingham.

Sir Anthony Cleaver, chairman, said: "We see no reason to amend the general thrust of our business plans."

The company also announced that its network is 41 per cent built, up from 35 per cent at the end of 1994. It controls or has major stakes in three franchise groups, including the Cable Corporation, Yorkshire Cable Group and Birmingham Cable Corporation.

Revenues came 40 per cent from residential telephony, on which the company has been focussing marketing attention. Cable television was responsible for 33 per cent, with business telephony at 27 per cent.

Analysts said the company was likely to see losses drop steadily, reflecting progress on the building of cable networks and the growth in revenues from subscribers.

General Cable, in which Compagnie Generale des Eaux holds a controlling stake, came to the market earlier this year, priced at 185p. After languishing for several weeks, it became one of the few quoted cable companies to rise above its initial price, and gained another 6p yesterday to close at 196p.

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