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.

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