Time Warner has unloaded another remnant of the Ted Turner era, finalizing an agreement Monday to sell the Atlanta Braves to Liberty Media after more than a year of negotiations.
No deal had been officially announced Monday evening, but sources say the pact values the team at $450 million and has been submitted to Major League Baseball for approval.
Time Warner acquired the Braves when it bought Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting Systems from Ted Turner in the mid-1990s. News of a sale stirred speculation that a deal could open the door for Ted Turner, who is close to Liberty topper John Malone, to again become involved with the team.
TW and Liberty hope baseball officials will approve the sale in time for the team to be transferred by opening day. Under the agreement, Terry McGuirk will remain in charge of the team after the sale. General manager John Schuerholz and manager Bobby Cox also are expected to remain on, the person said.
Time Warner will transfer the Braves, a group of craft magazines and $1 billion in cash to Liberty in exchange for about 60 million shares of Time Warner stock, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the sale on its Web site Monday evening. Based on the closing price of Time Warner’s shares Monday, the market value of those shares would be about $1.27 billion.
Liberty Media spokesman John Orr and Time Warner spokesman Ed Adler declined to comment.
“We received certain of the sale documents today but have not yet reviewed them” said Bob DuPuy, baseball’s chief operating officer.
He said baseball staff will go over the documents to make sure they meet baseball’s usual sale rules. “It will then go to the ownership committee, then will go to the executive council, then will go to the clubs,” he said.
The parties had apparently waited to receive tax opinions before reaching an agreement. The agreement was designed to minimize taxes.
Liberty currently has about 170 million shares of Time Warner, which is equivalent to a stake of about 4% of the media company. Deal would reduce the size of Liberty’s stake in Time Warner to about 2.6%.