Liberty Media’s Malone readying empire building?


John MaloneLiberty Media Chairman John Malone’s plans to spin off Liberty’s cable broadband holdings into a separate public company (not just a tracking stock), has people wondering if he’s looking to do some deal making, a la Comcast CEO Brian Roberts’ empire building.

The tip-off, says the NY Post story, came earlier this month when Malone shelved plans to issue a tracking stock to spin off Liberty’s 26.4% stake in Charter, the fourth-largest cable company, according to National Alliance Securities’ analyst Robert Routh.

That the tracking stock is being replaced with an asset-backed security has Routh thinking the spun-off entity — to be named Liberty Broadband Group — can conveniently merge with Charter itself.

From the story: “That’s when the fun would begin. A Liberty-controlled Charter could set about replicating Roberts’ success with his Comcast-NBCU combination, Routh said, by checking any interest that Fox Broadcasting, Time Warner or Viacom might have in reprising the role of NBCU.

While another media monolith modeled after Comcast-NBCU may seem a long shot, several extenuating circumstances warrant notice.

Malone’s rich history of deals with Fox Broadcasting’s Rupert Murdoch could easily give rise to another, while a magazine-free Time Warner makes its remaining content even more appealing to a distributor like Charter. There’s also the unprecedented interest in estate planning displayed by Viacom’s Redstone during this month of his 91st birthday.”

Roberts first engineered Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal through a gradual takeover completed early last year.”

See the NY Post story here.