Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei talked up the recent growth at Sirius XM Satellite Radio and Charter Communications during the company’s third-quarter earnings conference call on Monday. But on the subject pressed by analysts — Liberty’s potential moves to facilitate a Charter acquisition of Time Warner Cable — Maffei was resolutely mum.
The most Maffei offered was acknowledging that the run-up of Charter’s stock price in recent months has probably been fueled in part by market speculation that Liberty, which controls Charter, is looking for a deal with TW Cable. Charter’s share price has shot up 10.3% since early September, closing Monday at $131.19.
“There’s probably some expectation in that stock price around a transaction and the synergy value that is there,” Maffei told investors. But he also warned of speculation “getting ahead of itself on merger synergies” and emphasized Liberty’s belief that Charter on its own “is going to grow into that valuation.”
When asked about other potential acquisitions for Liberty, Maffei would only say: “We’re looking at a host of things both domestically and internationally, some distribution-type assets (and) some content-type assets.”
Overall, Liberty saw a big jump in third quarter revenue thanks to its controlling interest in Sirius XM.
Maffei noted that it was “a busy quarter” for John Malone’s holding company, which solidified its control of Sirius XM and reclaimed the 5.2% stake that Comcast Corp. held in Liberty in exchange for ending a long-held revenue-sharing agreement with NBCUniversal’s CNBC cabler and $417 million in cash.
Liberty’s revenue climbed 11% from the year-ago quarter to $962 million. Net income fell to $63 million, from $74.5 million in 2012.
Liberty reported gains in the value of its hefty stakes in Charter (valued at $3.6 billion) and Live Nation Entertainment ($990 million) but saw a drop in the value of its Barnes and Noble holdings ($231 million).
On the call, Maffei noted that there are “renewed discussions” between Sirius XM and Live Nation on potential partnership opportunities “around promotion and ticketing around Live Nation channels. They’re all being examined with renewed interest,” he said.
Pictured above: John Malone