UPDATE 1-Liberty-target Ziggo sees unchanged core profit in 2014

Fri Jan 24, 2014 3:44am EST

* Sees 2014 core profit flat near previous year's 886.8 mln

* Market expectation was for rise to 907 million

* Q4 core profit 222.8 mln euros vs expected 219 mln

* Says talks with Liberty have progressed

* Cannot give final dividend announcement for now

By Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Dutch cable group Ziggo NV , which is in talks on a takeover by U.S. peer Liberty Global Plc, forecast unchanged core earnings for 2014 with investments in promotions and in its new mobile service offsetting revenue growth.

The group said there was little it could say about its talks with Liberty, which it revealed in December. It had previously rejected an offer as too low.

"These discussions have in the meantime progressed ... I should also mention there is no certainty an agreement will be reached," Chief Executive Rene Obermann told a conference call.

Ziggo also said that the discussions meant it could not propose a final dividend, but would make a further statement before its annual shareholders' meeting set for April 17.

Ziggo said it believed the Dutch consumer market would be largely unchanged in 2014, with growth driven by broadband Internet and customers taking up multiple services, along with Ziggo Mobile and expanding business-to-business services.

Core profit looked set to be similar to the 886.8 million euros ($1.2 billion) it earned in 2013. The average Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S forecast was for a rise to 907 million euros.

Ziggo shares, which have been propped up on expectations of a bid, were down 0.1 percent at 33.55 euros by 0820 GMT.

The group, which listed in March 2012 and competes for telephone, TV and broadband internet customers with the likes of KPN, reported a 2.8 percent increase in fourth-quarter revenue to 394 million euros.

Core profit (EBITDA) rose 2.1 percent to 222.8 million euros against an average estimate of 219 mln.

Ziggo ended the year with 33,000 subscribers for the mobile service that it launched in September. It added 32,000 internet subscribers in the last quarter, making a total of 1.9 million.

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