Liberty Media Pursues Asset Swap Strategy

15 February 2007

NEW YORK: Liberty Media has inked two asset swap deals as part of a strategy to turn passive media investments into operating businesses. The US company, controlled by cable pioneer John Malone, will swap its stake in CBS for a TV station in Wisconsin and around $170 million (€12.8m; £87m) in cash.

The agreement follows hot on the heels of Liberty's move to swap one third of its stake in Time Warner for the Atlanta Braves baseball team, $1 billion in cash and a magazine unit.

And December saw the end of a long-running wrangle with News Corporation when Liberty exchanged its stake in the Murdoch media empire for control of top US satellite TV operator DirecTV Group, $550m in cash and three regional sports networks [WARC News: 26-December-06].

Some analysts predict Liberty is likely to amass enough sports-related properties to launch a rival to Walt Disney Company's cable sports channel ESPN.

The company remains zip-lipped, save for a statement by treasurer David Flowers which said the CBS deal marked the latest step to make Liberty a "focused operating company".

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff