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Building Value, not Empires: Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global, named Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2012 Media, Entertainment and Communications Category Winner

Fries honored for pushing the envelope by expanding into unchartered markets and fueling company growth through innovative methods

NEW YORK, Nov. 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global, was named the Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2012 Media, Entertainment and Communications Category Award winner. Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur Of The Year is the country's most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The award encourages entrepreneurial activity and recognizes leaders and visionaries who demonstrate innovation, financial success and personal commitment as they create and build world-class businesses. 

Fries was recognized for his foresight and ability to expand the company into regions of the world not yet explored by other cable providers and in which nine million homes are still watching analog television. It was Fries' critical leadership that helped create a global organization that generated $10 billion in revenues, has 20 million customers and operates in 13 countries. Liberty Global (LGI) is currently the second largest cable TV company in the world, behind Comcast. Fries was honored at the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards gala, the culminating event of the Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum® in Palm Springs, Calif. The Forum is the nation's premier gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies. Awards were given in nine additional categories. The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Award winners were selected by an independent panel of judges from 244 regional award recipients. 

"Mike Fries is the visionary behind the leading cable company, employing more than 21,000 people and connecting 13 countries with the digital world," said Bryan Pearce, Americas Director, Entrepreneur Of The Year, Ernst & Young LLP. "With a laser focus on innovation, Fries continues to enhance Liberty Global's Internet, voice and video services, bringing an amazing entertainment experience as well as simplicity to societies across the globe."  

The right to free media

LGI was born in 1989 and Fries' first job was to travel the globe, drum up new business opportunities and lead the company's first deals. In 1990, he found himself driving around rural Hungary in meetings with local officials. He was beaming presentations intended to teach communists about profit and value creation onto the walls of ranches and town halls. The fall of communism had given local governments network systems and rights that they didn't know how to use. Mike was there with a solution, and the result was the launch of the first international cable network, HBO Hungary.

LGI's success, driven by Fries, can be measured by the fact that it has connected many different countries to the digital world, enabling them to discover and experience its endless possibilities. Nearly all of the countries he's connected have disparate linguistic, cultural, political and regulatory challenges. Entering markets under great stress or scrutiny was a feat in itself, and achieving success in them is a challenge most companies would not have been able to navigate.

Building value, not empires

Fries works diligently to foster a culture of creativity and innovation at all levels within LGI. Fries chairs a Strategy Lab where key executives debate and analyze ideas on new services, new products and disruptive technologies. LGI also recently launched an innovation portal called

"Spark" where all employees are encouraged to contribute their own ideas. Fries tries to develop a space for personal growth and expression in the workplace. He recently championed the launch of a year-long leadership session, "Fast Forward," which focuses on developing the company's next generation of leaders. Forty young leaders within the company are invited to meet with members of LGI leadership and cable industry pioneers to work together to tackle some of the company's most challenging business opportunities.

The time between 2001 and 2004 played a crucial role in creating LGI's unique corporate culture.  As Fries says, "We're entrepreneurial, period. Lean, fast – a 'family' venture." To reinforce this family feeling, he's currently working to revitalize a shared company vision around the globe, fostering a culture of communication and cooperation across borders. The branded campaign, "One Company," also includes high-energy town hall meetings led by Fries across operations, engaging employees by helping them understand the company's vision, strategies and products and interacting through Q&A.

National Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 Media Entertainment and Communications finalists

In addition to Fries, the Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur Of The Year Media, Entertainment and Communications finalists were: Tim Sullivan, CEO, Ancestry.com, based in Provo, Utah,is the world's largest online collection of family history records and resources, giving individuals of many ages, races and backgrounds chapters of their own authentic, unique family stories; Tom Bedecarre, CEO, AKQA, based in San Francisco, Calif., is one of the world's most respected ad agencies helping global brands win in the digital age by bringing ideas and innovation to the most forward-thinking companies; Bob Brisco, CEO and Director, Internet Brands, Inc., based in El Segundo, Calif., is a new media company that operates online media, community and e-commerce sites in vertical markets. The company also develops and licenses internet software and social media applications.

National Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2012 Overall Award winner

Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder of Chobani, was named the Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2012 Overall Award winner.

Video and photos

To view video clips of all of the Entrepreneur Of The Year winners, please visit ey.com/us/eoy. Photos of the winners are also available by request.

Sponsors

Founded and produced by Ernst & Young LLP, the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards are nationally sponsored in the United States by SAP America and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

About Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur Of The Year

Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur Of The Year is the world's most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The unique award makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global award of its kind, Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognizing them through regional, national and global awards programs in more than 140 cities in 50 countries.

About Ernst & Young LLP's Strategic Growth Markets practice

Ernst & Young LLP's Strategic Growth Markets (SGM) practice guides leading high-growth companies. Our multidisciplinary team of elite professionals provides perspective and advice to help our clients accelerate market leadership. SGM delivers assurance, tax, transactions and advisory services to thousands of companies spanning all industries. Ernst & Young is the undisputed leader in taking companies public, advising key government agencies on the issues impacting high-growth companies and convening the experts who shape the business climate. For more information, please visit us at ey.com/us/strategicgrowthmarkets, or follow news on Twitter at EY_Growth.

About Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Worldwide, our 167,000 people are united by our shared values and an unwavering commitment to quality. We make a difference by helping our people, our clients and our wider communities achieve their potential.

For more information, please visit ey.com.

This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young LLP, a client-serving member firm of Ernst Young Global Limited operating in the US.

SOURCE Ernst & Young

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