News Corp., Liberty complete swap

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NEW YORK -- News Corp. and Liberty Media Wednesday completed a long-awaited swap that gives Liberty control of DirecTV and amounts to a $10.1 billion stock buyback for News, the largest in its history.

Liberty chairman John Malone and CEO Greg Maffei have been appointed to the satellite TV giant's board, filling two of the three seats previously held by News Corp. representatives, most likely News president and COO Peter Chernin and CFO David DeVoe.

News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch has also filled the chairman post at DirecTV. Chase Carey will continue to serve as president and CEO.

"This transaction is strategically important, financially attractive, and will provide new focus to Liberty Media," said Maffei.

Under the deal, Liberty is swapping its 16% stake in News Corp. for a controlling 41% stake in DirecTV, three regional sports networks - FSN Northwest, FSN Pittsburgh and FSN Rocky Mountain - and approximately $625 million in cash.

The transaction, whose completion came just in time for a DirecTV investor day Thursday, came about after Liberty bought its sizeable stake in News Corp., which led the conglomerate to adopt a shareholder rights plan, also known as a "poison pill."

The closing paves the way for a reclassification of Liberty's Liberty Capital tracking stock in the coming days. The company expects that new Liberty Entertainment and Liberty Capital tracking stocks will start trading early next week.




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