UPC stumbles despite sales

Pact between UnitedGlobalCom and Liberty Media will be revised

AMSTERDAM — United Pan-Europe Communications has posted a loss of 556 million euro ($489 million) for the first quarter of 2001, up from $411 million and despite a 67% boost in sales to $293 million.

The troubled pan-European broadcaster also may be unable to meet its digital TV take-up projections.

While cable customers jumped 900,000 to 7.2 million from the same period last year, UPC signed up only 9,000 digital subscribers in the quarter, bringing the take-up to a mere 33,000. The target for year’s end is 250,000.

UPC also said a transaction between its majority shareholder, UnitedGlobalCom, and Liberty Media, which would give UPC a badly needed $878 million cash boost, will be revised.

UPC said it remains confident that it will receive the money. Analysts were less assured. “If anything,” said one, “it is a signal that UPC is no longer in charge of its own house.”

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