NEW YORK — Liberty Media’s now a force to be reckoned with at Time Warner as John Malone’s company turns its hefty holding in the media giant from non-voting to voting shares.
The Federal Trade Commission said Friday that it had lifted restrictions on Liberty’s 4.1% stake. Move comes at a time when investors are pressuring TW to figure out a way to boost its lagging stock price. The market continues to wonder if the conglom would consider splitting itself up or selling off one or more divisions.
Time Warner has been in talks with Liberty about buying back Liberty’s shares, possibly by swapping the Atlanta Braves baseball team. But until that happens, Liberty could have an important voice, particularly if aligned with other large investors.
The voting prohibition was put in place back when Liberty itself owned cable TV systems. Time Warner was and still is a major cable operator. But Liberty exited that business years ago.
Liberty’s Time Warner stake came from its initial investment in Turner Broadcasting, which TW acquired in 1996.
The voting restrictions were set to expire in February 2007. This past February, Liberty requested the limits be lifted early.