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Liberty Media to spin-off cable assets

Liberty Media is to spin-off its cable assets into a separate publicly-traded business.

The company has announced the creation of Liberty Broadband, which will house Liberty’s 26.4% stake in US cable company Charter Communications, a minority shareholding in Time Warner Cable and mobile unit True Position Technologies.

This follows a complex Charter agreement to acquire and swap 3.9 million cable subscribers from TWC, which NBCUniversal owner Comcast Communication was forced to dispense with as a term of its US$45.2 billion takeover of TWC. That deal still requires regulatory approval.

“We believe a separate Liberty Broadband will offer investors greater choice and transparency, and is well timed with Charter’s agreements with Comcast which will result in Charter owning or serving over eight million video customers,” said Greg Maffei, Liberty Media’s president and CEO.

“We anticipate completing the distribution of the Series C shares in the third quarter and the spin-off by the end of the year.”

Liberty Media had planned to create two cable distribution divisions, Liberty Media Group and Liberty Broadband Group, though this plan has now been shelved in favour of a hard spin and creation of Liberty Broadband.

Liberty spun out premium US cable business Starz into a separate company last year.

Liberty Media will house radio business Sirius XM, Live National Entertainment and the Atlanta Braves baseball team. Liberty Media last week posted first quarter revenues of US$1.01 billion, up US$222 million year-on-year. Operating income grew US$4 million to US$155 million.

It emerged last week John Malone’s other major cable business, Liberty Global, is buying UK-based production powerhouse All3Media along with Discovery Communications, and will launch a 50-50 joint venture company to house that stake.