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Liberty posts 3rd-qtr. loss

Digital arm taps Enenstein VP

HOLLYWOOD — Liberty Media Group reported a third-quarter net loss of $217 million, compared to $1.3 billion in profits a year ago, the media conglom said Monday.

Seperately, the Englewood, Colo.-based company has tapped Craig L. Enenstein veep of business development and strategy at Internet investment arm Liberty Digital.

Liberty Media, which owns stakes in cablers Discovery Channel, QVC and Encore Media Group, reported revenues of $789 million for the period ended Sept. 30, an increase from $661 million in the third quarter of 1998.

Total cash flow for its portfolio of companies was $90 million, up from $80 million in the year-earlier quarter.

Third-quarter earnings in 1998 included a $2.3 billion gain on an asset sale, the company said.

Liberty Media officials declined to disclose reasons for the loss, but the figure could be attributed to the company’s recent buying spree. Its assets include post-production facilities Todd-AO, Four Media, Ascent Entertainment and a piece of Emmis Communications. It has used stock for most deals and retained an enormous war chest of some $4 billion, part of which will likely go to share re-purchases. More purchases, big and small, are surely in the cards.

However, the conglom did say that revenues at shopping channel QVC Inc., of which Liberty owns 43%, were $667 million in the September quarter, up from $574 million a year earlier.

Liberty said the surge was primarily due to an increase in the average number of homes receiving QVC services in the U.S., U.K. and Germany, combined with increases in sales per home for QVC’s core U.S. service and international services in the U.K. and Germany.

Those factors also increased cash flow, which rose to $125 million from $104 million in the year earlier quarter.

Enenstein will be responsible for leading Liberty Digital’s interactive infrastructure and Internet investment activity as well as helping to craft the strategic direction of the organization.

He joins Los Angeles-based Liberty Digital from Knowledge Universe LLC, an education corporation led by Michael Milken, Lowell Milken and Larry Ellison.

While there, Enenstein invested in education-focused companies across products, services and the Internet. Before that, Enenstein served as a strategy consultant for both Bain & Co. and LEK Consulting.

“I am very excited to join the Liberty Digital team,” Enenstein said. “Given the universal penetration of the television set, interactive television is a massive untapped e-commerce distribution channel. I believe that Liberty Digital will be a leader in helping shape this powerful medium.”

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