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Malone partners in Japan cable play

Super Media to be up and running by year's end

Moving to increase control over Japan’s leading cabler, John Malone’s Liberty Media Intl. on Tuesday said it is forming a holding company with Sumitomo Corp. to pool their respective stakes in Jupiter Telecommunications.

Under the pact, Liberty Media Intl. will contribute its 45% stake in Jupiter, while Japanese conglom Sumitomo will initially contribute a 20% stake. Sumitomo will have to contribute its remaining 12% stake within a year of the agreement, subject to certain conditions.

The new holding company, to be called LMI/Sumisho Super Media, will be controlled by a management committee made up of one exec appointed by Liberty and one appointed by Sumitomo. Super Media is expected to be up and running by the end of the year.

Jupiter IPO?

One of the beauties of the bargain for Malone: If Jupiter holds an initial public offering, the Liberty-appointed exec will hold the casting or deciding vote when it comes to most Super Media decisions. That would give the recently formed Liberty Media Intl. indirect control of Jupiter, allowing it to list Jupiter’s revenue and earnings on its income statement.

There has been no decision by Jupiter shareholders about whether to take the cabler public, but discussions are under way, according to Liberty.

Liberty Media Intl. was spun off this summer from Liberty Media. Last month, the new company reported better-than-expected 3Q results after purchasing voting interest in European cable operator UnitedGlobal.com.

It’s the second time this year that Malone has upped the ante on his Japanese cable TV bet. In February, Liberty Media agreed to invest $82 million in Tokyo-area cabler Mediatti Communications.

In the wake of the latest news, Liberty Media Intl. closed up 2.65% at $42.96 on the Nasdaq.

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