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Despite his recent acquisition of Formula One, Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei says he’s not done acquiring new entertainment assets.
“We always have an appetite for more, hopefully if we can be clever about it,” the exec told the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom Conference on Monday during a presentation that was webcast. Maffei has overseen the expansion of Liberty Media, which has John Malone as its chairman, to include investments in SiriusXM Radio and Charter Communications.
He pointed to Pandora, the internet radio company, as a possible target acquisition, but not at current market valuations. “We like the asset, just not at this price. I don’t think we’ll end up buying it. We’ll see,” Maffei said.
In another recent acquisition, longtime topper Bernie Ecclestone exited Formula One and former DirecTV boss and longtime Rupert Murdoch lieutenant Chase Carey was named to replace him as CEO of the grand prix racing giant. “It’s a global franchise in sports that had been under-monetized and frankly under-managed,” Maffei said.
He added Liberty Global will make Formula One races more “competitive,” and the economics of the sport would aim to be fairer for its new parent and racing team owners. A subscription VOD service for Formula One and digital gaming based on the sport are also in the pipeline, Maffei said, to draw younger viewers beyond older, hardcore fans.
“We have to make the sport much more engaging to a younger audience to draw them in,” said the exec. Maffei also talked about plans by the Trump administration to reduce corporate tax rates, including reducing the top rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, as has been speculated.
Altering the U.S. tax code would have implications for Liberty Global, which has reduced its own tax bill in the past via so-called tax inversions that see American companies move their headquarters abroad for lower tax rates. “It does change our perspective,” Maffei said, while adding tax reform by Congress would not happen quickly or easily.
“I’m not as certain as I was that tax reform will come in as I used to be,” he told investors. “That lingering uncertainty has the potential to be lingering for some time,” he added. Maffei also said the Trump administration’s pro-business deregulation of the media and entertainment sectors is “very positive for the cable business.”
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