MECHELEN, Belgium, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Belgian cable company Telenet will distribute 950 million euros ($1.27 billion) among shareholders this year, a sharp increase on last year’s payout after a strong year in which customers flocked to its new mobile offering.
Telenet, in which U.S. group Liberty Global has a 58.3 percent stake, said on Monday it would pay shareholders 7.90 per share and buy back shares worth an additional 50 million euros.
The group said it would finance the pay-out, which still has to be approved by shareholders at its general meeting in April, from cash currently on its balance sheet and the group’s recurring free cash flow.
Last year, Telenet paid out a total of 533 million euros via a capital reduction, dividend and share buyback.
The group unexpectedly released a trading update in January, saying its 2012 revenues rose by 8.2 percent to 1.49 billion euros, beating analysts’ average forecast of 1.48 billion and company guidance for growth of 7-8 percent.
For 2013 Telenet, expects its revenues to rise by 10-11 percent, supported by its growing share of mobile phone customers and a further increase in the number of customers buying more than one of the group’s services.
Chief Executive Duco Sickinghe told a news conference that recently gained customers, some drawn in by new mobile tariffs in July, would drive growth for the whole of 2013, but Telenet also aimed to win over further new subscribers.
“There’s an important effect from last year, where we grew in the third and fourth quarters. That gives an uplift to revenue growth this year,” he said.
Telenet, which uses Mobistar’s network to offer its mobile phone services, said it had more than 520,000 mobile phone customers at the end of 2012 an increase of 112 percent year-on-year.
Sickinghe said the year had started well for the group’s mobile phone business but declined to give customer targets for 2013.