Maffei: DirecTV Latin America spinoff possible

11:56 AM PST 09/17/2008 by Georg Szalai, AP

Liberty CEO also talks about a potential sat TV merger

NEW YORK -- Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei on Wednesday signaled that his team could spin off DirecTV Latin America from satellite TV giant DirecTV down the line, expressed little hope for a stock-for-asset swap with Time Warner and said he doesn't know if DirecTV and Dish will eventually merge.

"There are a lot of synergies," he said about a satellite TV merger. "There would be a lot of consumer benefits." But given a past failure to win regulatory approval for such a deal, Maffei said overall he wasn't sure it could happen. "I'd say I don't know," he said at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia investor conference.

Maffei also once again signaled that a merger of Liberty Entertainment with DirecTV is likely.
He expressed interest in a possible spinoff of DirecTV Latin America. "We're looking at a different capitalization and recognition of DirecTV Latin America."

Meanwhile, he called a possible acquisition of InterActiveCorp's HSN, in which the company already owns 30%, by Liberty's QVC "very attractive." But over the next about two years, Liberty can only make a buyout bid in response to an offer from another company, he explained.

Maffei showed no more interest in the Web access business of Time Warner's AOL. While he had earlier in the year said Liberty could think about it, he said Wednesday that it would be the "wrong kind of asset."

Liberty would rather get a fast-growing asset from TW in return of some TW stock it still holds, but TW is likely to want on to those, Maffei said.

Asked about the synergies between content and distribution assets, Maffei said his company clearly see such benefits in its portfolio.

He cited channel positioning, promotion of content and help with carriage negotiations as key benefits.

Maffei suggested that Wall Street clearly hasn't given his company and other integrated entertainment companies, such as Disney and News Corp., enough credit. "The market is not very enthused with integrated companies," he said. "The synergy model has been discounted by people in the room."
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