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Liberty Media, the company controlled by billionaire mogul John Malone that houses such assets as satellite radio company SiriusXM Radio, the Atlanta Braves baseball club and the Formula One racing circuit, on Wednesday reported mixed second-quarter financials.
Net income for the second quarter came in at $94 million, up from $82 million in the year-ago period, with operating income rising from $328 million to $422 million.
While satellite radio giant SiriusXM recorded a 15 percent gain in operating profit and the company’s Liberty Braves Group’s operating loss was unchanged at $3 million, Formula One, which the company didn’t own in the year-ago period, posted a lower operating profit.
Liberty Media’s second-quarter revenue rose 56 percent to $2.14 billion from $1.37 billion. Company CEO Greg Maffei during an analyst call was coy about takeover speculation around U.S. cable giant Charter Communications, in which John Malone holds a 25 percent voting stake via Liberty Broadband.
French telecom giant Altice NV on Wednesday was rumored to be a possible suitor for Charter. Addressing a question from an analyst on options for Charter and Liberty Broadband amid the M&A chatter, Maffei said any deal for the U.S. cable unit “would have to add real value and show real capability beyond what we think is a very well-positioned company with a very strong management team.”
He added Charter recently reported a “solid” financial quarter that set the company up for future growth. “We will, of course, listen to any and all offers that come in, and judge them on their merit and appeal,” Maffei said.
Liberty Media, as a small stakeholder in Major League Baseball’s streaming technology business, BAMTech, via its ownership of the Atlanta Braves team, also gained from Disney on Tuesday signaling it will acquire a majority of BAMTech. Disney is doing that to launch a streaming service of its own in 2019 after pulling its movies from Netflix, and an ESPN streaming service early next year.
“Yes, obviously as an indirect shareholder in BAMTech, we are very pleased with the result. It’s a very good result for baseball, not only in monetization, but in an ongoing role Disney will put muscle behind BAMTech,”Maffei said. Disney already owned a stake in BAMTech, but will pay $1.58 billion for an additional 42 percent.
At the same time, Disney going solo has an impact on Charter as Hollywood players increasingly eye going direct to consumer with their content offerings. “A lot of people are trying to figure out what their direct to consumer strategy is. The nature of the (cable) bundle I suspect is going to change over time. I don’t believe it will crash as fast as some (do). And Charter remains an attractive business model,” Maffei told analysts.
August 9, 12:00 Updated with comments by Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei to analysts during a conference call.
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