Morning business news - February 14Thursday 14 February 2013 10.17
2012 A STRONG YEAR OF GROWTH FOR UPC IN AN EVOLVING INDUSTRY - Cable company UPC says it reached one million subscribers in Ireland for the first time last week. Full year results published by UPC this morning show that the number of subscribers it signed up grew by 11% over the year.
UPC Ireland's chief executive Dana Strong says that 2012 was a strong year of growth for the company with its success driven by an investment of €0.5 billion in its fibre powered network and the strong appeal of its digital offering. She also says the launch of its on-demand services proved very popular. Ms Strong says the quality of its network would surpass the offering from other telecommunications companies, adding that she would like to think that UPC's success in Ireland is due to its own actions and not those of its competitors. Stating that imitation is the highest form of flattery, she notes that the phrase ''triple play'' was first coined by UPC owner Global Liberty.
Earlier this month, UPC's owner Liberty Global struck a deal to buy British cable group Virgin Media for about $15.75 billion in stock and cash. Ms Strong says it is early days for the deal and acquisitions are a long process, but she admits the size of the deal will change the firm in some shape or form. She says there is never a dull moment in the media industry with things constantly evolving.
MORNING BRIEFS - KBC Bank Ireland, a subsidiary of Belgian lender KBC, has reported an annual loss for 2012 of €306m, up from €269m in 2011. Its loan impairment costs also rose from €510m to €547m though it said the pace of increase in the numbers of residential and commercial mortgage customers falling behind on their repayments is slowing. John Reynolds, KBC Ireland's chief executive, said the bank is making arrangements with customers in difficulty to make their loans more sustainable but that does not include debt write-offs.
*** A trade pact between the US and EU, cited as a goal by US President Barack Obama in his state of the union address on Tuesday, could benefit Ireland to the tune of $100m. Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton says he will be using his chairmanship of the EU's Trade Council to help make progress towards an agreement. Trade between the US and EU has fallen substantially since September 2008 - when Lehman Brothers imploded on Wall Street. It has fallen from $655 billion to $584 billion a year as of September 2012.
*** American Airlines and US Airways agreed last night to a merger that will create the world's biggest airline.
The boards of American parent AMR Corp and US Airways approved the deal late yesterday.