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Liberty May Try to Buy Back Stock

The company may explore exchanging assets for the 120 million shares Comcast owns.

March 19, 2004|From Bloomberg News

Liberty Media Corp., the company controlled by cable television investor John Malone, may start talks "in the coming weeks" about repurchasing $1.33 billion of its stock from Comcast Corp., an executive said.

Liberty Vice President Michael Erickson said Wednesday at an investor conference in Denver that the company might exchange assets for the 120 million Liberty shares that Comcast owns. Liberty's 10% stake in E! Entertainment Television is one asset that could be exchanged, Erickson said. Comcast owns 50% of the E! network, and Walt Disney Co. owns 40%.

Exchanging assets for shares "would be a nice way for us to buy back some shares and for them to tax-efficiently monetize those assets," Erickson said at the conference. "An obvious one that I could point to, without getting too far ahead of myself, is E!"

Comcast, the biggest U.S. cable TV provider, received the shares last year when it sold its 57% stake in the QVC home-shopping network to Englewood, Colo.-based Liberty.

Liberty shares Thursday fell 11 cents to $11.05 on the New York Stock Exchange. The Class A shares of Philadelphia-based Comcast fell 10 cents to $28.93 on Nasdaq.

Erickson's comments were first reported by the Hollywood Reporter.

Comcast Chief Financial Officer John Alchin said at another conference last week that the company would "love to find creative ways to deal with" the Liberty stock, spokesman Timothy Fitzpatrick said Thursday.

Fitzpatrick declined to comment further.

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