The official word from Liberty Media this morning was that once Starz becomes an independent, publicly traded company it will have a lot of flexibility to use stock or cash to buy other entities. Like what? Starz chief Chris Albrecht told analysts today that he “can’t comment on any potential acquisitions or anything because we’re not in a structure yet to even be able to contemplate that.” He added, though, that unlike his competitors including Time Warner’s HBO and CBS’ Showtime “Starz is the only one that will have this unique capital structure which provides us with opportunities across the board.” But there’s another school of thought that Starz is being primed for a sale. It’s becoming too risky for the operation to compete against streaming services such as Netflix for premium cable movie rights — and to pay the rising costs for original programming — BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield says. But several companies would probably like to have Starz, and could easily afford it. The analyst calls NBC “the ideal buyer” because it would open opportunities to show Universal Studios content — although he doesn’t rule out other traditional TV and production powers including Time Warner, News Corp, CBS, and Disney. Even more intriguing, he says, Starz could provide a huge boost to digital streaming companies with soon-to-launch Redbox Instant By Verizon at the head of the pack. Verizon has plenty of cash and “Starz would enable Redbox Instant to enhance/phase-in high-quality content in 2013,” Greenfield says.
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