No. 43: UnitedGlobalCom

Revenue: $1.25 billion

Net profit: $1.27 billion

UnitedGlobalCom bills itself as the largest international broadband communications provider of video, voice and data services. Indeed, it’s reach is impressive with operations in 25 countries and networks that access more than 18 million homes as of June.

Company holding is headquartered in Denver, not far from Liberty Media, which will soon become a controlling shareholder. The bulk of its business is focused in Europe, with Asia Pacific and Latin America operations as well. Its 53%-owned United Pan-European Communications, based in the Netherlands, is Europe’s largest cable operator. Austar United Communications is a cable and telecom provider in Australia and New Zealand, and VTR GlobalCom is the largest cabler in Chile. Focus in on continued rollout of broadband services like tiered programming, pay-per-view, telephony and high-speed Internet access

All that calls for costly upgrades. UPC, which is traded separately on the Nasdaq and Amsterdam stock markets, has been having a rough year and summer as investors fret at the company’s high debt and fear it may run out of cash; it’s stock has been decimated. CEO Mark Schneider just resigned as the company announced a hefty loss for the first half and anticipated layoffs in the second.

Still, UPC is well positioned as the European cable scene heats up with Liberty, Microsoft and others investing. All of the big U.S. entertainment congloms including AOL Time Warner, Viacom and Walt Disney have called international and European expansion a top priority. In many markets, cable is at the hub of the video and Internet revolution.

Looking for the fastest way to profitability in a number of markets, UPC is expected to merge its pay TV platforms in Poland with Vivendi Universal.

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