Cable mogul John Malone tightened his grip over television giant Discovery Communications Inc. on Thursday by buying the 25% stake held by Cox Communications for $1.28 billion in cash and other assets.
Malone's Liberty Media Corp. currently owns 50% of the Silver Spring, Md.-based company, which includes cable channels Discovery, TLC and Animal Planet. Liberty's stake in Discovery Holding Co. would increase to 66% with Thursday's deal.
Discovery Communications' other shareholder, Advance/Newhouse Communications, also agreed to increase its stake to 33% from 25%.
Discovery Holding is a public company, but now includes only Malone's non-controlling stake. Investors have been waiting for Cox and Newhouse to roll in their shares so the entire company would be publicly traded -- something that is now more likely, observers said.
In addition to the cash, Discovery said it would give Cox the Travel Channel and a museum audio tour business called Antenna Audio, which Discovery purchased last year.