Thu, Apr. 9, 9:08 PM
- Don't let recent merger challenges and failures fool you, Michael Wolff argues: "M&A mania" is coming to a media conglomerate near you amid pressure for a new wave of consolidation.
- "Perhaps never before has consolidation been so much the flavor of the month, nor has it seemed so difficult to get a taste," he writes. "The table is set, but nobody's sitting down to eat."
- If Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) fails in its bid for Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), he notes, it just means other cablers will step up to match Comcast's ambition, and Comcast will still look for a way to stay dominant.
- He points to a number of mergers he thinks are easily imaginable: Viacom (NASDAQ:VIA) and FOX? Disney (NYSE:DIS) and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX)? TWC and Charter (NASDAQ:CHTR)? Discovery (NASDAQ:DISCA) and, well, most anyone (Disney, Fox, CBS)?
- Factors encouraging the wave: Media's all about video now, and the pure-play aspect makes merger logic cleaner; distribution and content are separate and now even antagonistic businesses; the growth of over-the-top means not unbundling but re-bundling; and everyone needs scale for negotiation strength in content and ad deals.
- Other key players: John Malone (LMCA, LBTYA, STRZA); Verizon (NYSE:VZ); Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF); Scripps Networks (NYSE:SNI); Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX); DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) and AT&T (NYSE:T); Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH).
Tue, Mar. 17, 2:39 PM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) keeps up its sports-deal momentum by signing a tech and real estate pact with the Atlanta Braves (NASDAQ:LMCA) that will include wiring the team's new 60-acre stadium complex for networking, as well as a new office for Comcast.
- The project will provide video, voice and high-speed Internet through SunTrust Park, including a ballpark and surrounding buildings holding retail, food service, hotels and residences.
- As part of the muli-year deal, Comcast's name will be on a nine-story tower that will also house 1,000 of its employees.
- Comcast's business-services unit has signed similar deals in the past, most recently with the NFL's Tennessee Titans, as well as the San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars; baseball's Oakland A's, Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers; and the NBA's Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks.
- SunTrust Park is scheduled to open in time for Opening Day in spring 2017.
- Previously: No plans to sell MLB's Braves, Liberty says (Feb. 25 2015)
Wed, Mar. 11, 10:56 PM
- "Using Live Nation (NYSE:LYV) to differentiate Sirius (NASDAQ:SIRI) and using Sirius to promote Live Nation is very logical," says Liberty Media (NASDAQ:LMCA) CEO Greg Maffei of the two entertainment companies in which his firm is a major shareholder: 57% of SIRI, 27% of LYV. "But I remain somewhat disappointed that more things haven't happened there." Maffei was speaking to the Deutsche Bank conference.
- Macquarie's Amy Yong agrees: It's not that the satellite radio and concert promotion companies need a merger (which would be complicated by the ownership), but: "If both worked more closely, they can help each other cross promote or market their products/services," she says.
- There may be opportunities for Sirius to broadcast LYV concerts, and for LYV to promote Sirius among its heavy people traffic, but as for tie-ups: "We are the consolidators," says Live Nation's chief Michael Rapino, preferring to focus on his acquisitions. "Geographically, if there was a ticketing company in the right market that we thought could accel our operation versus building, we'd look."
Mon, Mar. 9, 8:04 PM
- Don't be surprised if there's more to John Malone's tie-up with Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF), says Liberty Media (NASDAQ:LMCA) CEO Greg Maffei -- but don't count on it either.
- Speaking to Deutsche Bank's Media, Internet & Telecom conference, Maffei hinted that Liberty Chairman Malone joining the Lions Gate board as part of a Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) stock swap would help both parties get to know each other.
- “You need to have partnerships, you need to do more,” Maffei said. “Whether that ultimately leads to acquisitions ... you need to be able to do more with bigger people.”
- Maffei says HBO's rollout of its streaming service bodes well for Starz, demonstrating how to distribute product in more ways, though "I think we can do it in a way that is in conjunction with our cable, telco, and satellite partners. which is attractive."
- Previously: Starz, Lions Gate deal may presage closer relationship (Feb. 11 2015)
- Previously: Lions Gate adds Liberty's Malone to board in Starz stock-swap deal (Feb. 11 2015)
Fri, Mar. 6, 5:45 AM
- CBS slipped 1.5% yesterday, and Viacom (VIA, VIAB) another 1.2%, as Deutsche Bank's Brian Kraft weighed in on big media in a spate of coverage updates noted at Benzinga. He expects continued profit growth in the sector, particularly with international expansion.
- Kraft actually has a Buy on Viacom with an $83 price target (yesterday's close: $70.37). Though the company is starting layoffs (see TV Land) amid widespread ratings issues, Kraft says investor worries about contract renewals are overdone, and its discounted value is attractive.
- Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA) is another buy at a $42 target (yesterday: $34.87), with "best in the sector" three-year prospects for profit growth, as is Time Warner at a $100 target (yesterday: $83.26).
- He started CBS at Hold with a target of $67 (yesterday: $61.55) and Disney at Hold with a target of $105 (yesterday: $105.03), praising both stocks but suggesting they're a bit overdone.
- Also getting a Hold was Sirius XM (NASDAQ:SIRI), and Liberty Media (NASDAQ:LMCA) -- whose holdings are now 90% Sirius XM.
Wed, Feb. 25, 7:44 PM
- In Liberty Media's (NASDAQ:LMCA) Q4 earnings call, CEO Greg Maffei confirmed there's no plans to sell the Atlanta Braves -- despite longtime speculation that the company might unload the team after some five-year tax advantages expired a few years ago.
- The team's value is estimated at $730M; Liberty paid some $400M to acquire them in 2007.
- Liberty swapped Time Warner stock to acquire the Braves, and so realized a $300M tax savings -- a basis change that Maffei admitted would make selling the club "painful" due to taxable gains.
- Liberty Media debt decreased overall, offset somewhat by borrowings connected with plans for a new Cobb County stadium for the team.
Wed, Feb. 25, 5:16 PM
Wed, Feb. 25, 5:05 PM
- In Q4 results, Liberty Media (NASDAQ:LMCA) pointed to Sirius XM's (NASDAQ:SIRI) earnings -- Liberty's stake in Sirius XM now stands at 57%, and the SIRI stake represents over 90% of Liberty's market cap -- as well as completing its spinoff of Liberty Broadband in November.
- Net income on a GAAP basis was $143.1M vs. the prior $65.2M. Adjusted EBITDA was $381.3M, beating an expected $377M and up from the prior year's $325.6M.
- The company rebought 489K shares of LMCK class from Nov. 1 through Jan. 31, at a cost of $17M.
- Adjusted OIBDA for Q4 rose to $359M, up from the prior year's $319M. Removing depreciation and amortization, operating income rose to $206M from the prior year's $189M.
- Cash on a GAAP basis stood at $681M at year's end. Debt, primarily in Sirius XM senior notes, was at $5.85B.
- Free cash flow was $330.7M compared with the prior year's $303.2M.
- Press release
Wed, Jan. 28, 6:05 PM
Wed, Jan. 28, 8:41 AM
- Liberty Media (NASDAQ:LMCA) CEO Greg Maffei says that the government will likely approve the giant media merger deals on the table -- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) with Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), and AT&T (NYSE:T) with DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) -- but the key issue will be what the firms are forced to give up.
- "My bet would be that all those deals get done," Maffei tells CNBC. "What is the set of regulations or restrictions around them and what the acquiring companies have to agree to, that'll be the rub."
- Liberty's interest in Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR) is on his mind: "Charter has been an acquirer, is going to continue to be an acquirer" -- and Charter will have room to make buys if Comcast ends up swallowing TWC.
- Previously: Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger review clock running again (Jan. 13 2015)
- Previously: DirecTV hiking prices ahead of AT&T deal's closing (Dec. 29 2014)
Fri, Jan. 9, 11:33 AM
- Liberty Media (LMCA -1.3%) CEO Greg Maffei has been given more voting control of TripAdvisor (TRIP +0.7%), according to a new SEC filing.
- Maffei gained through an asset swap 2.8M B shares (10 votes per share) of Liberty TripAdvisor held by John Malone.
- Liberty TripAdvisor in turn has majority voting control of TripAdvisor.
- SEC Form 13D
Nov. 5, 2014, 12:49 PM
Oct. 9, 2014, 3:12 PM
- Liberty Media (NASDAQ:LMCA) CEO Greg Maffei hints that the company may look to swap its position in Expedia (EXPE -1.7%) for another investment during his talk at a media conference.
- Maffei says the company is looking for opportunities in digital and mobile disruption.
- Webcast of the FBR Digital Media Thought Leaders Conference
Aug. 5, 2014, 7:58 AM
Aug. 5, 2014, 7:55 AM
- Liberty Media (NASDAQ:LMCA) reports its ownership in SiriusXM (NASDAQ:SIRI) grew to 56% in Q2.
- The company's spinoff of Liberty Broadband is scheduled to occur in 2H of 2014.
- Under the terms of the spinoff, shareholders will receive one-fourth of a share of the corresponding series of Liberty Broadband common stock for every whole share of Liberty Media's common stock held by them.
Jul. 2, 2014, 8:27 AM
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