Liberty's John Malone Unloads Remaining Lionsgate Stock

John Malone - Getty - H 2019
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According to an SEC filing, the billionaire investor no longer "beneficially" owns class A shares in the Hollywood studio.

Billionaire investor John Malone has dumped his remaining voting shares in Lionsgate, with Liberty Global and Lionsgate chairman Mark Rachesky coming forward to increase their own stakes in the Hollywood studio.

In an SEC filing on Thursday, Malone, chairman of Liberty Media and Liberty Global, among other media companies, revealed that he no longer "beneficially" owns class A stock in Lionsgate.

That's after he had been among the studio's biggest investors. The SEC filing indicates Malone sold on the open market between Sept. 23 and Sept. 30 around 520,000 class A shares in Lionsgate at between $9.00 and $9.80 each.

Malone's SEC filing, and a separate SEC filing Thursday from Lionsgate chairman Rachesky and his investment vehicle MHR Fund Management, both indicate Rachesky on Wednesday agreed to purchase 2.39 million class A voting shares in Lionsgate from Malone and affiliates, including family foundations, for around $22 million in cash.

The latest share sales follow Malone disclosing in a separate SEC filing on Sept. 9 that he sold around 1.44 million class A shares in the studio between Aug. 19 and Sept. 6. That coincided with Liberty Global revealing in a separate SEC filing that it had raised its own holding in Lionsgate to 4.9 percent.

Malone in February 2015 first exchanged some of his Starz shares for a 3.43 percent stake in Lionsgate and a seat in its boardroom as part of a standstill agreement between Malone, Liberty Global, Discovery Communications and affiliate funds belonging to Rachesky.

And in 2016, Malone's stake in Lionsgate went from 3.43 percent to 8.1 percent as the Hollywood studio merged with Starz. But he has since reduced and now unloaded his stakes of class A and class B shares in Lionsgate, including for tax planning purposes, and last year stepped down from the studio's board.

At the time, Malone was replaced in the Lionsgate boardroom by his nephew, Dan Sanchez, as he continued to step away from Lionsgate, while in recent months Liberty Global and Rachesky took the remaining shares from the billionaire investor.

In addition, it's understood that Liberty Global and Discovery have not materially changed their investment plans for Lionsgate after buying shares in the studio in 2015 and holding them.