Liberty Starts $3.5 Billion Buyback After Virgin Deal

Liberty Global Plc, the company controlled by billionaire John Malone, announced the start of a $3.5 billion stock repurchase program and said it intends to complete the buyback over the next two years.

Under the plan, Liberty Global may acquire Class A shares, Class C shares or any combination, it said in a statement yesterday.

The buyback follows the cable giant’s acquisition in Europe of Virgin Media Inc. for about $24 billion including debt, to expand in the U.K. A previously announced $1 billion stock repurchase program is no longer applicable, the company said.

The new buyback plan represents 13 percent of Liberty Global’s $27 billion market value. The company’s purchase of Virgin Media was completed earlier this month.

Shares of Liberty Global, based in Englewood, Colorado, slipped 1.4 percent to $73.15 at the close in New York yesterday. They’ve gained 16 percent this year, ahead of the 14 percent advance by the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.