Barnes & Noble Shares Tumble After Liberty Media Says It Will Sell 90% Of Its Holding

By | Thursday April 3, 2014 @ 7:39am PDT

The stock is down about 12% in early trading after Barnes & Noble disclosed in an SEC filing that John Malone’s media company has agreements to sell 90% of its investment to “qualified institutional buyers.” Barnes & NobleThree years ago Malone offered about $1B to buy the book retailer. When talks stalled, he agreed to pay $200M for a 17% stake. With the sale, Liberty’s ownership in the company drops to about 2%. It also gives up its right to pick two members of the B&N board and to block asset sales. Liberty CEO Greg Maffei will leave when its stock sale closes on April 8. Another Liberty exec, Mark Carleton, was also going to leave but the book retailer’s directors re-elected him.

Liberty says that this isn’t a no-confidence vote: “By reducing our preferred position and eliminating some of our related rights, Barnes & Noble will gain greater flexibility to accomplish their strategic objectives,” Maffei says. B&N Chairman Leonard Riggio echoed that message and added “Liberty’s decision to retain a portion of its investment and have active involvement on our board underscores Liberty’s ongoing commitment to Barnes & Noble.” Read More »

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Deadline Big Media 76: The Obama Against Aereo Podcast

Deadline Big Media ep 76In this week’s podcast, Deadline’s executive editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom look at the Obama administration’s unusual intercession in the Aereo Supreme Court case on behalf of the networks and the notable absence of tech industry involvement in the case so far.

They also try to make sense of John Malone’s latest complicated stock shuffle that affects SiriusXM and Charter Communications; check in on the many Big Media highlights from this week’s Deutsche Bank investor conference; break out the checkbook for that Amazon Prime price hike; and wonder how DreamWorks Interactive can be on track for both a $310 million global box office haul for Mr. Peabody & Shermanand a write-down of $84 million for that same film. Read More »

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Liberty Media Withdraws Proposal To Buy SiriusXM In Stock Reshuffling Designed To Help Charter Expand

By | Thursday March 13, 2014 @ 3:15pm PDT

Liberty Media logoSiriusXM shares are down about 2.4% to $3.29 in post-market trading after Liberty Media said it will sit tight with its 53% stake in the satellite radio company while it reshuffles its asset portfolio — potentially to help Charter … Read More »

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Liberty Media CEO Expects Comcast To Buy Time Warner Cable But Keeps Door Open

John Malone’s company is the largest shareholder in Charter Communications whose hostile bid for Time Warner Cable was trumped when Comcast stepped in with its $45.2B stock offer. Greg Maffei headshotBut while Liberty recognizes that the No. 1 … Read More »

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Liberty Media Generates Q4 Profit Due To Strength At SiriusXM

By | Friday February 28, 2014 @ 5:41am PST

Liberty Media logoLiberty Media is too important a company to ignore, but since it’s mostly a holding company for stock in other publicly traded entities there’s rarely anything surprising in its earnings report. That’s pretty much the case this morning … Read More »

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SiriusXM Delays Plan To Buy Back Liberty Media Shares While It Weighs Takeover Offer

By | Friday January 24, 2014 @ 1:44pm PST

The satellite radio company has postponed from January 27 to April 25 the planned $240M share repurchase from majority owner, John Malone’s Liberty Media.SiriusXM But Malone shouldn’t fret: SiriusXM now says that it will buy $340M of Liberty’s holdings … Read More »

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Liberty Media CEO Says That Time Warner Cable Has Not Been Run Well

By | Tuesday January 7, 2014 @ 5:35pm PST

Greg Maffei‘s comment today at an investor meeting sponsored by Citi resonates because his company is the leading shareholder in Charter Communications, which is preparing to make a bid for Time Warner Cable. Greg Maffei headshotIt would be a risk, the Liberty CEO says, because “we’re being asked to pay for assumed synergies” including the possibility that Charter could reduce content and marketing costs. “Can they happen fast enough will be the real key.” But Maffei notes that “there’s also an opportunity to run the reported asset [TWC] better” time-warner-cable-logo__130821213653-275x126adding that it “has not performed as well as Comcast and what [Charter CEO Tom Rutledge] and his team have been able to do.” Consolidation makes sense because “15, 20 years ago we did not have scaled national competitors [including satellite companies] and you didn’t have over the top [Internet competition].” Cable now faces those threats, as well as “a new set of reinvigorated cable opportunities [that] come from working together and building scale…Some of that is from consolidation and some of it is from confederation.” He acknowledged that Liberty’s new proposal to buy the 47% of Sirius XM that it doesn’t already own would give it access to the satellite radio company’s cash flow, and that could help if Charter goes after the much-larger TWC. “It says in the future there’s a lot more flexibility.” Liberty also wants to adjust its own strategy. “Eight years ago, when I joined, Liberty Media was a complete mish mash…We didn’t have controlling stakes in pretty much anything except for QVC and we had enormous tax problems trying to unwind some of those stakes.” Now that those problems have been fixed “we needed a new game.” The problem is finding an investment that makes sense in the digital age, where it’s hard to find businesses that look like they can continue to grow for a decade or more. “That may work for Coca Cola” — but it’s “unlikely that everything that sits in [Liberty] is going to be sitting there in 5 or 6 years because there’ll be change.” Read More »

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Liberty Media Offers To Buy Sirius XM

By | Friday January 3, 2014 @ 1:56pm PST

John Malone‘s company proposes a stock swap that would value Sirius XM at $3.68 a share — a mere 3% premium over Friday’s closing price of $3.57. Sirius XM logoLiberty Media already owns more than 52% of the satellite radio company’s shares, so this wouldn’t change control, and it says that it won’t squeeze out other investors. It will only go ahead if a special committee of independent directors, and other shareholders, support the change. They likely would insist on a higher price. The goal is to “simplify the capital structure and pursue other economic opportunities,” Liberty CEO Greg Maffei says. The company also says that Sirius XM shareholders will benefit by ending up with 39% of Liberty, though their shares would not entitle them to vote on its affairs.

Related: SiriusXM Will Raise Rates 3.5% In January

“We believe the combined company will have better access to capital and all of Liberty’s shareholders — both its current shareholders and the Sirius shareholders who become Liberty shareholders as a result of the proposed transaction — will enjoy enhanced liquidity as shareholders of a $27 billion market capitalization company,” Maffei says. Malone adds that a deal “will enable us to focus our energies on the pursuit of new opportunities across the expanded portfolio of Liberty’s businesses.” Everything that Malone does has to be seen in the context of his eagerness to help Charter Communications (where Liberty’s the biggest shareholder) buy Time Warner Cable. “There are lots of ways that something can occur there,” Maffei says. “It’s likely that (a potential deal for TWC) would close significantly later than the transaction contemplated here.”

Here’s Liberty’s announcement: Read More »

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Charter And Liberty Media CEOs Say They Can Grow Without Time Warner Cable: Video

The comments by Charter CEO Tom Rutledge and Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei on CNBC this morning may account for the 2% dip today in Time Warner Cable’s stock price. Investors are betting that Charter will make a rich offer for the No. 2 cable company. But Rutledge says Read More »

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John Malone: Cable Companies Need To Merge And Cooperate To Combat Netflix

By | Thursday October 10, 2013 @ 8:36am PDT

The chairman of Liberty Media compares the growing sense of bitterness in pay TV to the dysfunction in Washington: There’s so much tension lately between programmers and distributors — especially over pricing — because “like [in] the political system, the moderates have been driven out of the business,” John Malone told an investor gathering. Internet video services led by Netflix have become so popular that they’ve pressured traditional pay TV companies to focus on short term gains instead of deals that would create long term value. Netflix has an advantage using the Internet because it reaches the entire country and its “local distribution is incrementally free.” Hollywood programmers sell to Netflix because it’s “found money.” Yet cable operators are hamstrung. “As big as Comcast is, it has a 25% footprint. You can’t buy national programming when you have that kind of footprint.” Distributors also shot themselves in the foot by waiting so long to roll out their TV Everywhere streaming services. If they’d moved more quickly then ”we’d be looking at new revenue streams and the ability to manage ad skipping and so on.” Instead, they’ve “created this window of opportunity” for Netflix. Read More »

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Liberty Media Unveils Deals With Sirius XM and Comcast Ahead Of Investor Meeting

By | Thursday October 10, 2013 @ 5:02am PDT

UPDATED: John Malone’s company will give Wall Street a lot to talk about today. Shares in Liberty-controlled Sirius XM are already up about 2% in pre-market trading after it said that it will add … Read More »

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Liberty Media CEO Endorses Changes In Pay TV And Broadband Pricing

By | Wednesday September 25, 2013 @ 9:29am PDT

Sen. John McCain just picked up an unexpected ally in his seemingly quixotic effort to pass a law that would promote a la carte pay TV pricing. Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei — whose company is the largest shareholder in Charter Communications, and usually opposes regulation — says “there are many positive attributes” to the bill, although he questions whether it can pass. Maffei’s comment stood out at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference, where analysts have been asking execs what they think about McCain’s effort and the idea of breaking up the pay TV bundle. Programming execs at the event including Disney’s Bob Iger, Viacom’s Philippe Dauman, and Scripps Networks’ Ken Lowe  all but scoffed at the idea, saying that consumers are satisfied with a system that serves them well. But Maffei says that programmers’ ambitious recent price hikes threatens what he calls the “wonderful ecosystem in the television business…When you see what’s going in on places like Los Angeles with eight regional sports networks, you threaten that benign feedback loop and it’s not a good thing.” If companies don’t solve the problem then “you risk some regulatory intervention.” Cable companies now find “scale and horizontal consolidation attractive” — in part to gain leverage in negotiations with programmers. He wasn’t pressed on the latest in Charter’s effort with Liberty to combine with other operators including Time Warner Cable, Cox, and Cablevision, although he offered that “I’m not sure we have to lead the [consolidation] charge.” Read More »

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Liberty CEO Says He Would Only Make A Cable Deal With Charter

Don’t look for Liberty Media Chairman John Malone to add a cable company to his own portfolio. Although he believes the industry is ripe for consolidation, it’s “unlikely that we would participate in buying stakes in other cable companies Read More »

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Charter And Cox In Merger Talks: Report

Deal discussions seem to be at an early stage according to the report about them today on Bloomberg, citing “two people with knowledge of the matter.” Execs haven’t decided how a deal might be Read More »

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Time Warner Cable Debt Holders Should Worry If Charter Comes Knocking: Moody’s

Debt holders shouldn’t be as enthusiastic as stock buyers seem to be about the talk of a possible marriage between Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications, Moody’s Investors Service warns today. Liberty Media’s John Malone fanned the … Read More »

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Is John Malone Crafting A Cable Mega-Deal?

Shares in Time Warner Cable, Charter, and Cablevision popped this afternoon after Bloomberg reported that the one-time King of Cable is “exploring scenarios” to help Charter buy one of the other companies. Investors have speculated for weeks about a deal, seen as a real possibility since May when John Malone‘s Liberty Media paid $2.6B for a 27.3% stake in Charter. Today’s story took things further, citing unnamed sources who added details — including one who said that Malone and Charter “would like to get a friendly deal done [with Time Warner Cable] in the coming months.” Charter needs to show that it can afford to play; its $12.5B market value pales next to Time Warner Cable’s $31.7B. A buyer likely would have to pay much more: Evercore Partners’ Bryan Kraft says this week that TWC shareholders would want “a significant premium” to compensate them for giving up control, accepting additional risk, and creating most of the cost-saving synergies. Read More »

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Vodafone To Pay $10B For Germany’s Kabel Deutschland

UK telecoms giant Vodafone says it will pay 87 euros a share for Germany’s largest cable operator, Kabel Deutschland. The $10.1 billion deal will give Vodafone 32.4 million mobile, 5 million broadband and 7.6 million … Read More »

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Liberty Media CEO Foresees Cable Mergers But Remains Coy About Charter’s Plans

It’s natural to wonder whether Liberty Media Chairman John Malone’s new acquisition of 27.3% of Charter Communications is merely Step One in a plan to make him a U.S. cable titan — the role he played until 1999 when he sold Tele-Communications Inc to AT&T. And while Liberty CEO Greg Maffei doesn’t predict that, he also didn’t rule it out today in a quarterly earnings call with analysts. He says that cable “could be in for a round of consolidation” at a time when it’s so inexpensive to borrow money and large companies covet opportunities to cut costs — for example by negotiating lower prices from programmers. He cryptically adds that even though Charter can do just fine as a stand-alone entity, “we’ll see” whether it ends up being “a consolidator or condolidatee.” Liberty’s stock purchase agreement gives it the right over time to raise its stake to 40%. Will it do so? “We’ll see what time holds,” Maffei says. Read More »

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Liberty Media Says Revenues And Cash Flow Grew In Q1

Liberty Media is too important a company to ignore. But the Q1 earnings statement out this morning is a jumble after it spun off Starz and formally took control of Sirius XM. It reports net … Read More »

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