UPC returns to profit in Q1

Company awaits debt for equity approval

AMSTERDAM — Troubled cable outfit United Pan Europe Communications reported a significant jump in pre-tax profits to £40.7 million ($66 million) in the first quarter of this year, up from a loss of $541 million. Revenue was up slightly to $413 million.

Net profit also climbed to $53 million, from a whopping $2.3 billion loss, but UPC does not expect to generate a profit for the 2003 fiscal year. Company said increase in net profit was due in part to foreign currency gains, and other income and expenses, due to the sale of its cable business in Israel.

Company also announced it had sold its 21% stake in pan Euro network SBS Broadcasting to UnitedGlobalCom, its parent company, for $115 million.

UPC, which has filed for Chapter 11 in the U.S. and protection from creditors in Holland, said completion of a much-needed recapitalization, expected at the end of Q2, would be delayed due to an appeal by one creditor opposed to UPC’s debt for equity swap that would wipeout company’s $12 billion debt and raise UnitedGlobalCom’s stake in UPC to 65.5%.

“We believe the appeal is without merit,” UPC said in a statement. A ruling is expected after May 23.

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