Liberty’s Malone Says Buyout of Live Nation May Make Sense

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Liberty Media Corp Chairman John Malone
Liberty Media Corp Chairman John Malone. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg

Liberty Media Corp. Chairman John Malone said it may make sense to buy out the public shareholders in Live Nation Entertainment Inc. and HSN Inc., two companies in which Liberty has stakes.

Taking Live Nation private would give the concert and ticketing company a chance to clean up operations out of public spotlight, Malone told reporters in Sun Valley, Idaho. Liberty is Live Nation’s largest shareholder with a 22 percent stake.

“It would probably be nice for it to be private for a period of time, to settle down,” said Malone, “to get everything working smoothly, having predictable financial outcomes.”

Malone, through Englewood, Colorado-based Liberty, has taken stakes in businesses from the home-shopping service HSN and Sirius XM Radio Inc. to the Atlanta Braves baseball team. In May, Liberty offered $17 a share to take bookseller Barnes & Noble Inc. private.

Malone said much of the recent deal-making is being driven by Gregory Maffei, Liberty’s chief executive officer who has had strong returns on deals such as Sirius XM.

“Maffei is batting 1,000,” Malone said in the interview. “Even the Braves are doing well. So if Maffei says ‘Do it,’ you write a check.”

Standing nearby, Maffei said the Barnes & Noble’s deal will depend on what a board committee says about Liberty’s offer.

“What happens next is up to the special committee,” he said.

‘Major Financial Challenge’

Live Nation rose 75 cents, or 6.5 percent, to $12.26 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange trading. The stock has added 7.4 percent this year. HSN climbed $1.27, or 3.8 percent, to $35 on the Nasdaq Stock Market and has gained 14 percent this year.

Malone said that a deal for Live Nation could be difficult financially.

“Could we afford it? It may be a little out of reach right now,” he said. “Between here and getting it done is a pretty major financial challenge.”

Buying out HSN, in which Liberty has a 32 percent stake, may make sense because of the opportunities for cooperation with QVC, another home-shopping network in which Liberty has a stake, Malone said.

“Would we ultimately, when the parallel lines on the highway come together, think that HSN and QVC should be under the same umbrella? Yeah, we do,” said Malone. “We think there are synergies in that.”

“Do we see that happening in the near term?” he said. “That’s a function of markets and the attitude of control of the other side.”

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