Virgin Media Narrows 3Q Loss 36 Percent

LONDON (AP) — Virgin Media Inc. cut its losses by 36 percent in the third quarter, the company announced Wednesday, as it added 13,000 net cable and broadband subscribers.

Virgin Media reported a loss of 61 million pounds ($127 million) in the three months ending Sept. 30, compared with a loss of 96.1 million pounds in the same period a year ago.

Revenue was down 1.8 percent to a billion pounds ($2.09 billion), the company said.

The heavily indebted media company's customer base grew to 4.8 million in the third quarter, it said, substantially beating analyst expectations.

Growing subscriber numbers follows a net loss of 70,300 customers in the second quarter, and a loss of 47,300 in the third quarter of 2006.

"Our third quarter results show a significant turnaround in customer and RGU (individually subscribed services) growth with our best customer, broadband and telephone growth since the cable merger in March 2006," said Neil Berkett, acting chief executive officer.

"With the cable merger integration expected to be complete by year end, we can focus on continuing to improve the fundamentals, enhancing our products, reducing our churn (subscriber turnover rate), and delivering on our competitive strengths."

Virgin, created through several mergers including of the former cable operators NTL Inc. and Telewest and the mobile operator Virgin Mobile, was relaunched in February to become Britain's first media company to offer mobile phone, fixed-line phone, Internet broadband and TV services.

The company licenses its name from entrepreneur Richard Branson, who is its largest shareholder with a stake of about 10 percent.

For the first nine months of the year, Virgin Media reported that its loss was down 27 percent to 300.3 million pounds ($626 million) and revenue was up 20 percent to 3.02 billion pounds ($6.3 billion).

Virgin Media rose 3 cents Tuesday to close at $21.25 on the Nasdaq exchange.

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