Liberty Media drops bid to buy rest of Sirius

AP News
Posted: Mar 14, 2014 12:51 PM

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Liberty Media is dropping its bid to buy the rest of the satellite radio provider Sirius.

The move disclosed late Thursday comes as Liberty Media Corp., which is controlled by billionaire John Malone, takes steps to create two new tracking stock groups for its business. One will be called Liberty Media Group and the other will be Liberty Broadband Group.

Liberty Media said that because of the tracking stock distribution, it is withdrawing its offer for the rest of New York-based Sirius XM Holdings Inc. Liberty Media owns 53 percent of Sirius stock.

In January, Liberty announced a complex proposal that would have allowed it to obtain full ownership of Sirius. The deal would've valued Sirius at nearly $23 billion.

Liberty Media President and CEO Greg Maffei said in a statement that the company may hold further discussions with Sirius depending on market conditions.

Sirius XM has built the world's largest pay-radio service with 25.6 million subscribers as of late last year.

The creation of the new tracking stocks still needs approval from Liberty Media shareholders. But Liberty expects it to be in place by the third quarter.

Liberty Media said that the Liberty Broadband Group is expected to include its interest in the cable TV provider Charter Communications Inc. as well as its interest in another cable company Time Warner Cable Inc. and its subsidiary TruePosition Inc. It will also include a note obligation from Liberty Broadband Group to Liberty Media Group, a call option liability associated with Liberty's Time Warner Cable shares and liabilities at TruePosition.

Englewood, Colo.-based company Liberty Media said the Liberty Media Group will include the rest of its businesses, assets and liabilities. That would include Liberty's subsidiary Sirius XM Holdings Inc.

Separately, Sirius announced that it plans to restart share repurchases. The company previously suspended buybacks when Liberty Media made its acquisition proposal. Sirius is also maintaining its 2014 outlook for more than $4 billion in revenue and net subscriber additions of 1.25 million. Analysts polled by FactSet expect revenue of $4.14 billion.

Shares of Sirius XM Holdings added 12 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $3.48 in afternoon trading Friday. Liberty Media's Class A shares rose $10.20, or 8.1 percent, to $136.34.