In Business This Week: Headliner
John Malone: Weaving a New Web
Three weeks after closing the sale of Tele-Communications to AT&T, John Malone was dealing again. On Apr. 5 and 6, his holding company, Liberty Media, bought a chunk of set-top-box maker General Instrument and swapped shares in Fox Sports to nail down an 8% chunk of News Corp.--to go with its 9% stake in Time Warner, 21% in USA Networks, and 43% share of shopping giant QVC.
That stuff was all classic Malone. What's different is Malone's Internet dealing. Liberty announced on Apr. 6 it would merge a dozen stakes in Internet companies with its 86% owned TCI Music, which provides online music and videos-on-demand for cable systems. That boosts Liberty's stake in the company to $2 billion, and it gives Malone an Internet stock with which to go shopping for more assets.
Liberty Internet chief Lee Masters says the company prefers to buy pieces of startups, rather than entire companies. Liberty already has stakes in SportsLine USA, priceline.com, and drugstore.com.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top
A New Way to Face the Music
IT RARELY MAKES BIG NEWS THESE DAYS when a couple of media companies announce new Web sites. But if the companies are Seagram and Bertelsmann, which account for about 40% of all recorded music sold in the U.S., it's a different story. The two have formed getmusic.com to promote their combined roster of talent and sell CDs. The companies say they would be happy to take on more partners--such as music company Sony or services such as America Online. They may also sell music downloads. Could this be the start of a broader alliance between the two giants? "We'll see whether this relationship can expand beyond what's contemplated today," says Seagram Chief Executive Edgar Bronfman Jr.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top
A Whole New Look for Revlon?
REVLON IS EYEING A MAKEOVER. The cosmetics giant announced on Apr. 7 that it was looking at selling one or more of its business lines to pay down its $1.9 billion debt. Revlon, 83% owned by financier Ronald Perelman, didn't rule out selling the entire company, which lost $143 million in 1998. Several lines would be attractive to buyers, analysts say. One example: fast-growing Almay, maker of hypoallergenic makeup. Possible buyers include Procter & Gamble and Unilever: Neither would comment.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top
From Banana Wars to Cashmere Wars
THE EUROPEAN UNION GRUDGINGLY AGREED ON APR. 7 to comply with a World Trade Organization ruling in favor of the U.S. over the contentious issue of banana imports. But the EU's top trade official, Sir Leon Brittan, didn't say when or how--and hinted that Europe may file a new appeal in the six-year-old dispute. The WTO ruling clears the way for 100% U.S. tariffs on $191 million in European goods--which could include Scottish cashmere, French scarves, and German coffeemakers--in retaliation for European quotas on bananas from Latin America.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top
Back to the Huddle for the Redskins
WHAT NOW FOR THE WASHINGTON REDSKINS? On Apr. 7, billionaire real estate developer Howard Milstein withdrew his record $800 million offer to buy Washington's National Football League team, just as NFL owners were ready to reject the bid as too leveraged. Milstein promises he won't sue the league for dissing him, and he walks away with his $30 million downpayment back in the bank. Milstein's erstwhile bidding partner, communications entrepreneur Daniel Snyder, may show up with a fresh bid, say sources close to Snyder. He might, they say, team up with publisher and real estate developer Mort Zuckerman, who has been a business backer. And don't underestimate John Kent Cooke, son of the former owner, who had the losing bid last time.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top