Thu, Jul. 9, 5:29 PM
- There's been little news coming out of secretive Sun Valley -- where media moguls gather at the Allen & Co. conference for "summer camp" and sometimes rearrange billions of dollars with game-changing M&A -- but John Malone today dropped more hints about content consolidation.
- While media distribution companies have more obvious benefits from consolidation, Malone -- who has hands in Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA), Liberty Media (NASDAQ:LMCA), Liberty Interactive (NASDAQ:QVCA), Charter (NASDAQ:CHTR) and Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) -- said economies can apply to content too.
- "It's all about global scale," he told CNBC. "If you want to be a meaningful player in most of any of these media communication businesses, you have to think about it."
- And while speculation boils about a tie-up between Malone's Starz (STRZA) and Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF) after the two swapped stock, Malone focused on the educational side: "I'm an engineer; what the hell do I know about content? Trying to understand where these ideas come from, how they get created and produced. The development of stories is really going to be important in this random-access world that Reed Hastings (NASDAQ:NFLX) is driving us into."
- Malone said Netflix changed the game, and that his companies "missed the boat a little bit" on over-the-top offerings.
- Today: NFLX +2.4%; LGF +0.9%; QVCA +0.3%; CHTR +0.2%.
Tue, Jun. 2, 6:46 PM
- Mogul John Malone floated an interesting idea today: Forget Sprint and T-Mobile -- the wireless industry could get its third major alternative to Verizon and AT&T (NYSE:T) with the merger of Charter Communications (CHTR -1.6%) and Time Warner Cable (TWC -0.9%).
- Malone was speaking at his various Liberty companies' annual meetings and noted that in 2012, the cable consortium SpectrumCo got an option to participate in a wireless MVNO service with Verizon (NYSE:VZ) after the wireless firm bought $3.9B in frequencies.
- Charter wasn't in SpectrumCo then, but merger partners TWC and Bright House are. “The concept that Comcast, a greatly enlarged Charter and Cox could together offer a WiFi-optimized connectivity service with a default to a Verizon MVNO is an interesting concept," Malone said.
- He thinks "there's very little dirty underwear" left to be found in a regulatory review of Charter-TWC after the past year's scrutiny.
- Also of interest regarding Charter capex and the dividend: “Everybody's going to say, ‘Oh he’s spending too much capital,’ but I think the end result with be worth it ... To a large degree we’re betting on Tom Rutledge and his team to wake up a sleepy cable company that was treading water in all honesty for a while and trying to satisfy shareholder pressures with buybacks and dividends as opposed to putting the money into having a competitive service offering.”
- Malone company shares today: LMCA -0.1%; LMCB flat; LMCK flat; LTRPA -0.9%; LTRPB +2.2%; QVCA +0.8%; LBRDA +0.1%; OTCQB:LBRDB flat; LBRDK -0.1%.
Fri, May 8, 4:34 PM
- On a Q1 earnings call today, Liberty Media's (NASDAQ:LMCA) CEO Greg Maffei said any deal that Charter Communications (CHTR; partly owned by Liberty) would make for Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) would be "friendly," in contrast to Charter's early-2014 hostile attempt -- and that many partners are ready to step in if Charter needs more capital.
- "There's a wide range of things we could do there, starting with obviously the $700M of cash on the balance sheet," he said, before mentioning raising equity capital through rights offerings or the partners who would like to invest in such a deal.
- Asked about the dispute over management in the previous bid, Maffei said: "I believe any transaction that goes forward ... would be a friendly transaction, looking for the best of breed in both management teams, and trying to drive an improved experience both for consumers and shareholders."
- Whatever happens, Maffei says Liberty wants to keep its 25% ownership of Charter.
- More at the WSJ
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).
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)
Mar. 13, 2014, 6:22 PM
- Liberty Media (LMCA) is creating two new tracking stocks: One will be known as Liberty Media, and the other Liberty Broadband. Investors will receive one share of the former tracking stock, and four shares of the latter, for each Liberty share they currently own.
- Shareholders will also get "a subscription right to acquire one additional series A or series B share of Liberty Broadband tracking stock for every five shares of series A or five shares of series B Liberty Broadband tracking stock they receive in the Distribution."
- The subscription rights will be priced at "a 20% discount to the 20-trading day volume weighted average trading price of Liberty Broadband tracking stock following the closing of the Distribution."
- The tracking stocks are expected to trade under the symbols LBRDA and LBRDB. The broadband tracking stock will cover Liberty's stakes in Charter and Time Warner Cable, and its TruePosition subsidiary.
- As a result of the change, Liberty says its previous offer for Sirius XM (SIRI) is "no longer applicable." The company adds it remains an "enthusiastic" owner of 53% of Sirius.
- SIRI -2.1% AH. LMCA +0.7%.
Feb. 19, 2014, 4:22 AM
- John Malone has given the rights of first refusal to the CEOs of Discovery Communications (DISCA) and Liberty Global (LBTYA) to buy his holdings in their respective companies.
- Discovery chief David Zaslav will be able to purchase Malone's 29% voting stake in the TV broadcaster; at Liberty, Michael Fries will be able to acquire Malone's 27% voting interest.
- However, Malone has no intention of reducing his involvement in the businesses just yet, nor has he laid out any similar plans for his holding in Liberty Media (LMCA). Rather, the rights given to Zaslav and Fries represent planning for the future.
Jan. 26, 2014, 1:39 AM
- Comcast (CMCSA) reportedly prefers joining up up with Charter Communications (CHTR) to bid for Time Warner Cable rather (TWC) than making an offer on its own.
- Comcast thinks TWC's asking price of $160 a share is too high, while the latter isn't interested in selling itself in a piecemeal fashion.
- Charter is willing to let Comcast have TWC's New York-area cable systems in exchange for Comcast backing Charter's bid. The New York network would fit in nicely with Comcast's operations in Connecticut and New Jersey.
Jan. 7, 2014, 6:46 PM
- Sirius XM Radio (SIRI +0.8%) has named former DirecTV CEO Eddy Hartenstein, former DaimlerChrysler CEO James Holden, and long-time American Express executive Joan Amble to a 3-person special committee to evaluate Liberty Media's (LMCA +0.4%) $3.68/share bid.
- SIRI shares closed the day at $3.86, a 4.9% premium to Liberty's bid, as investors continue holding bets that the offer will be boosted.
Jan. 3, 2014, 4:51 PM
- Liberty Media (LMCA), which already owns a majority stake in Sirius XM (SIRI), is proposing to make Sirius a 100%-owned subsidiary through an all-stock deal. (PR)
- Liberty proposes to have each Sirius converted into a 0.076 new Liberty Series C shares, and then distribute, on a 2:1 basis, Series C shares to all holders of Liberty's Series A and B shares.
- The exchange ratio values Sirius at $3.68/share based on Liberty's Friday close; that's an $0.11, or 3%, premium to Sirius' closing price of $3.57.
- Sirius' public shareholders would own 39% of the new company, which (based on current prices) stands to have a market cap of $27B.
- Sirius shares are halted. CC at 5PM ET.
Dec. 20, 2013, 4:17 AM
- Liberty Media (LMCA) reportedly believes that a merger of Charter Communications (CHTR), in which Liberty owns 27%, and Time Warner Cable (TWC) could generate annual synergies of $700M.
- Time Warner isn't so convinced and pegs the figure at around $500M, while MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett provides an estimate of $450M and Barclays $560M.
- The expected large stock component of any deal would mean that the size of the synergies would play an important part in the attractiveness of the merger to shareholders.
- Charter had been looking to make a bid for Time Warner this week, but is likely to delay any proposal until the New Year.
Nov. 25, 2013, 1:59 AM
- Comcast (CMCSA) and Charter (CHTR) have reportedly discussed breaking up Time Warner Cable (TWC) in any joint bid for the company in order to overcome antitrust objections to a deal.
- The transaction would resemble Comcast's and Time Warner's acquisition of Adelphia Communications in 2006, when Comcast gained 1.7M customers and Time Warner 3.3M.
- A break-up of Time Warner would also make it easier for Charter to gain financing, given that it's much smaller than Time Warner.
- Meanwhile, the NYT carries a profile of John Malone, whose Liberty Media (LMCA) owns 27% of Charter. The article reports that Time Warner Cable has contacted Comcast about a possible transaction, leading to early talks.
Jul. 19, 2013, 3:37 AMCharter Communications (CHTR) is reportedly working with Goldman Sachs to acquire Time Warner Cable (TWC) in a move that's part of an attempt by John Malone, whose Liberty Media (LMCA) owns 27% in Charter, to rebuild his U.S. cable empire. Buying TWC, which rebuffed Malone's maneuvering earlier this year, would be a stretch for Charter, due to its high debt and its market cap of$12.6B vs TWC's $33.14B. Notwithstanding, TWC shares jumped 8% in AH trading. | Jul. 19, 2013, 3:37 AM | Comment!
Jun. 30, 2013, 1:50 AMTime Warner Cable (TWC) has reportedly contacted Cablevision (CVC) and Cox Cable about buying them as TWC looks to grow through acquisitions rather than be bought by John Malone's Liberty Media (LMCA), which owns 27% of Charter Communications (CHTR). While talks with Cox and Cablevision haven't led too far, the latter's founder and Chairman, 86-year Chuck Dolan, could be ready to sell. As for Liberty, TWC believes a tie-up for Charter would add too much debt and it is skeptical about prospective synergies. | Jun. 30, 2013, 1:50 AM | 4 Comments
Jun. 27, 2013, 2:26 PMMore on Liberty Media's hunt for Time Warner Cable: (previous): A bid to purchase the cable operator is being structured by John Malone's company even though Time Warner Cable (TWC +4.2%) hasn't indicated serious interest. Analysts see Time Warner Cable wanting at least a 20% premium before it warms up to the notion. The end game for Liberty Media (LMCA +2.4%) is to increase its scale through horizontal acquisitions which could be achieved bringing Charter Communications and TWC under the same corporate umbrella. | Jun. 27, 2013, 2:26 PM | Comment!
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