You can take Malone out of the pipes, but you can’t take the pipes out of the John.
John Malone, the erstwhile king of cable networks in the US has learned that despite all the content in the world, if you don’t have pipes to feed them into consumer homes, then you might as call it quits. So like all smart billionaires, he has gone back to his roots, and spent $3.5 billion and acquired 47% of UnitedGlobalCom stock he did not own, and merged it with Liberty Media International. That makes the combined company one of the largest broadband operators outside of the US. The new company will be called Liberty Global. United Global’s shareholders approved the deal… like there was any doubt.
JM will be the chairman and UGC president and CEO, Michael Fries will get the same job at the new company which has operations in 17 countries worldwide, and has 14 million customers including 2.3 million broadband and 1.6 million telephone subscribers. Meanwhile there are other big-media deals in the works including some arrangements between Rainbow Media (of Cablevision) and Liberty Media. Elsewhere, Rupert Murdoch is busy buying back his own shares. Which means, either he may have worked out a deal for Malone’s 18% holding in News Corp, or he is worried about Malone.