UPDATE 1-Dutch Ziggo lowers revenue guidance as competition heats up

Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:50am EDT

* Lowers 2013 revenue growth expectations

* Set to cut prices to retain customers

* Lost 4.3 pct of TV subscribers in Q1

* Q1 core profit (EBITDA) 222.6 mln euros vs 219.7 mln expected

BRUSSELS, April 17 (Reuters) - Dutch cable group Ziggo lowered its forecast for revenue this year as it planned price cuts to prevent a repeat of the customer losses it suffered at the start of 2013.

The group, which has 2.85 million TV customers and 1.8 million broadband subscribers, repeated its outlook for 2013 core profit (EBITDA) to increase by between 2.5 and 3.5 percent but said revenue growth would be at the lower end of this range.

The group, which lost 4.3 percent of TV subscribers in the first quarter, had previously guided for revenue growth to be slightly higher than core profit growth.

Ziggo, which competes with Dutch telecoms group KPN as well as Liberty Global's UPC, said that this was because customers with just a TV subscription were more likely to buy a bundle including broadband and telephone services from a competitor.

"We have carefully looked at market trends and we see that we need to make a big effort to turn this around," said Chief Executive Bernard Dijkhuizen, who will be replaced by former Deutsche Telekom boss Rene Obermann in 2014.

In the first quarter, adjusted core profit (EBITDA) rose 3 percent to 222.6 million euros ($292.28 million), just above the 219.7 million expected in Starmine consensus of five analysts.

Ziggo, which is currently worth more on the stock market than former Dutch telecoms monopoly KPN, did not comment on Wednesday on U.S. cable investor Liberty Global becoming its biggest shareholder with a 12.65 percent stake.

Liberty Global bought the stake in March from Barclays Capital Securities, which was left holding the shares from a sale by Ziggo's private equity backers Warburg Pincus and Cinven.