Liberty Media – the investment vehicle of US cable entrepreneur John Malone – looks to be preparing the ground for an offer for America’s largest satellite-TV firm after putting its stake in home shopping channel QVC up for grabs.

Liberty is eyeing a solo bid for Hughes Electronics, parent of satellite service DirecTV, after plans for a joint effort with News Corporation fell through [WAMN: 27-Feb-03].

Liberty holds 42% of QVC, with the residue held by cable giant Comcast. Under the terms of their joint venture, the two parties will enter a 30-day negotiation period to agree the channel’s value and decide whether one side will buy it outright or whether an outside buyer will be sought for all of QVC.

Analysts estimate QVC’s value at around $11.1 billion (€10.2bn; £7bn), putting Liberty’s stake in the region of $4.6bn.

The group refused to confirm that the proceeds are intended for a DirecTV bid. “At this point it is too soon to say [what will be done with the cash],” recited a partyliner. “Because of the terms of the contract we have to be prepared to purchase QVC if Comcast doesn’t.”

Data sourced from: Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff