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Liberty’s global spin

Malone's subsid covets 47% of cabler

NEW YORK — Liberty Media Intl., a subsid of John Malone’s mini-conglom, unveiled plans Tuesday to acquire the 47% stake in large cabler UnitedGlobalCom it doesn’t already own in a stock deal valued at about $3.5 billion, creating a company called Liberty Global.

Merger would simplify the structure of Malone’s international biz but effectively doesn’t change much since LMI already controls 90% of UGC’s voting rights. More controversial is the deal price, which offers no premium to UCG shareholders.

“It’s a little rude,” one fund manager said.

UGC operates in 15 countries, mostly in Europe, but also in Asia and Latin America. It’s biggest in the Netherlands, France, Austria and Chile.

Deal calls for each share of UGC to be swapped for 0.2155 of a share of Liberty Global, or about $9.42. UGC has been trading higher than that — it closed Tuesday at $9.60.

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LMI is also offering UGC shareholders a cash alternative of $9.85 a share.

Valued at $12 a share

Analyst David Joyce of JB Hanauer & Co. valued UGC at about $12 a share. “We expect a set of shareholders to commence action to raise the offer closer to the full valuation of UGC,” he wrote in a research note.

LMI, which was spun off from Liberty Media last year into a separately traded public company, would become a 100%-owned subsidiary of Liberty Global, as would UGC.

Malone would be chairman of the new holding company, ceding the CEO title to UGC’s current chief exec and prexy Michael Fries.

That move left some Wall Streeters speculating Malone may be preparing to take the helm of a new spinoff Liberty has been contemplating, one that would house Liberty Media’s content assets, including Discovery Communications and Starz!.