Virgin lifts revenues despite loss of customers

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The Independent Online

Virgin Media shrugged off the exodus of thousands of customers to post a slight rise in revenues as ongoing subscribers paid for more or improved services.

The cable group announced the net loss of 36,000 customers in the second quarter, compared with a gain of 4,000 a year earlier.

Yet the company's revenues grew 2.2 per cent to £986m in the three months to the end of June. Its chief executive, Neil Berkett, said people were increasingly "becoming dependent on next-generation digital technology and are prepared to pay for quality services".

Tim Boddy, an analyst at Goldman Sachs, said: "Virgin Media's focus on customer value over volume appears to be working." The average revenue per user each month grew 3.2 per cent to £47.35.

Mr Berkett said that households' and businesses' demand for data had risen a quarter in the first half. "This trend is rapidly transforming the profile of our subscriber base," he said, adding half of new broadband customers were paying extra to receive speeds of 30Mb or more.

Citi analysts said the revenues were slightly below forecast because of the weak performance in its business division and mobile operations.

The UK's largest mobile network operator, Everything Everywhere, reported a fall in revenues in the second quarter from £1.7bn to £1.6bn following regulatory changes. The parent of T-Mobile and Orange also lost more than 300,000 customers during the period. Yesterday marked Tom Alexander's last results announcement as chief executive. He resigned this month for "personal reasons". Olaf Swantee will take over on 1 September.