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Liberty Media (NASDAQ:LMCA) will spin off the cable network Starz to fund its pursuit of Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI). The split, which is expected to close later this year, will create “significant liquidity at Liberty Media, which preserves all our options with respect to SiriusXM,” Liberty chief executive Greg Maffei said in a statement.
Liberty has been pursuing majority ownership of Sirius for the past few months, with the latter resisting the efforts through regulatory help from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. Liberty, which received a 40 percent stake in the radio when it rescued it financially in early 2009, has since increased its ownership to more than 46 percent. However, the FCC declined Liberty’s request for permission to exercise effective control earlier this year as Sirius protested. Liberty has now filed a second appeal.
Liberty said the Starz split, which will take place in a tax-free transaction, will lead to two entities called Liberty Media Corporation and Starz, with their respective stock. Starz will assume around $1.5 billion in debt and receive an undetermined amount of cash. The spin-off will not require approval from shareholders, but will have to be cleared by regulators.
The spin-off of Starz may also help Liberty increase its stake in concert-promotion company Live Nation Entertainment (NYSE:LYV) to more than its current 26 percent.
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