- Achieved all 2021 guidance targets including increased Adjusted Free Cash Flow
- Distributable Cash Flow growth expected to continue in 2022
- Stable to growing revenue across the group with momentum into 2022driven by strong aggregate broadband and postpaid mobile growth
- FMC penetration continues to rise with clear churn and NPS benefits; cross-sell opportunities into 2022 with VOLT, Sunrise We, and Telenet One
- Executing on key network value creation opportunities, with integration and synergy plans progressing well in the UK and Switzerland
- Value of Ventures increased to $3.5 billion or ~$6.70 per share at year end
- Exceeded buyback guidance with $1.6 billion of repurchases in 2021;reiterating commitment to purchase 10% of share count per annum in2022/23
CEO Mike Fries stated, “Our fourth quarter and full year results demonstrated continued commercial momentum across our FMC champions. Operationally, we delivered 306,000 aggregate broadband and postpaid mobile subscribers during Q4 and over 1.0 million for FY21 with our converged bundles leveraging our market-leading broadband speeds and increasing 5G coverage. As we look at the
overall market in Europe, we see more tailwinds than headwinds, including huge demand for connectivity, improved pricing power, competition rationalizing and an improved regulatory environment.
Executing on our synergy plans in Switzerland and the UK remains a top priority and we are on track with the integrations in both markets. Our focus on network development strategies across our core operations continued throughout the quarter. In the UK, Virgin Media O2 increased its 1Gbps footprint to reach all of its 15.6 million homes passed, while progressing its FTTP upgrade plans to deploy a full fiber overlay across the entire HFC network by 2028. Meanwhile in Belgium, Telenet recently launched a strategic tower review with strong interest.
To extend Virgin Media O2’s broadband leadership, Liberty Global and Telefónica have initiated discussions with a number of potential financial partners regarding an opportunity to participate in a new network build joint venture. The focus of the entity will be on building a full fiber network of up to 7 million premises in new greenfield areas by the end of 2027. Virgin Media O2 will commit to being an anchor tenant of this new network, with its proven track record of achieving 30% penetration in new build areas with project Lightning. The network will also be available to other ISPs on a wholesale basis. As this will extend the company’s gigabit reach to ~23m premises once completed, it provides Virgin Media O2 with incremental growth opportunities by offering services to a wider pool of customers and higher cross and upsell due to the increased overlap of fixed and mobile services.
Our ventures portfolio is becoming an increasingly important piece of our value creation strategy as we continue to invest in technology, content and infrastructure businesses offering products and services directly adjacent to our core operations. The portfolio is now valued at $3.5 billion which represents a
year-on-year increase of $1.1 billion. Key drivers include Lacework, which closed one of the largest venture capital funding rounds of the year in the U.S. last November, raising $1.3 billion at a valuation of $8.3 billion, up substantially from its $1.1 billion valuation at the beginning of 2021, and Univision, which closed its merger with Televisa in January 2022.
Looking ahead, we see a number of interesting infrastructure opportunities on the horizon and will look at strategic options for our content investments, while the technology portion of our Ventures portfolio is expected to be largely self-funding going forward.
At the consolidated level, we delivered on all 2021 guidance including Full Company Adjusted Free Cash Flow of $1.45 billion, which represented 37% YoY growth. We expect to continue growing Distributable Cash Flow to $1.7 billion in 2022, an increase of 22% over 2021, supported by shareholder distributions from our joint ventures in the U.K and the Netherlands, as well as an expected recapitalization of Virgin Media O2 later in the year as management further executes on its synergy plan. This growth is expected despite our forecast for peak Costs to Capture spend in both the U.K and Switzerland this year, as well as elevated capital expenditures in Belgium and the Netherlands related to network capacity.
Liberty Global’s balance sheet remains in great shape with $4.3 billion(i) of cash (pro forma for ~$600 million of net cash proceeds expected from the sale of UPC Poland) and $5.9 billion of total liquidity (pro forma for UPC Poland). We continue to believe our shares offer very strong value at current prices and in our robust share buyback program we repurchased $1.6 billion of our shares in 2021, exceeding market expectations and buying back 10% of our shares by year end. We look forward to executing on the commitment to repurchase 10% of our shares outstanding in both 2022 and 2023.”
Read the full release here.