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Liberty Media swaps CBS stock

Malone trades shares for TV station, cash

NEW YORK — A day after swapping a third of its Time Warner shares for cash and the Atlanta Braves, Liberty Media traded all 7.6 million of its shares in CBS.

John Malone’s company turned over its piece in the Leslie Moonves conglom — about 1% of the company –for CBS’ local television station in Green Bay, Wis., and $170 million in cash.

Deal marks the third time in the past two months that Liberty is reducing or eliminating its stake in media companies in exchange for targeted assets.

In December the company swapped its 16% stake in News Corp. for a 38% piece of DirecTV, three regional cable sports nets and more than half a billion dollars in cash.

And earlier in the week, it traded about 60 million shares of its 170 shares in Time Warner for the Braves and about $1 billion in cash.

Moves are all part of Liberty’s larger gambit to reduce its passive holdings and become more of an operating company.

Company, which owns Starz and Encore, has become more active in Hollywood; it has beefed up its theatrical efforts via Chris McGurk’s new Starz-based distribution arm Overture and also acquired IDT Entertainment.

It has also amassed a small war chest through all the recent horse-trading. Three swaps have netted Liberty an estimated $1.7 billion — not to mention the Braves and the DirecTV stake.

For congloms, the trades’ major virtue is the ability to breathe easier that Liberty poses less of a threat for a hostile takeover — though in the case of Time Warner, Liberty continues to maintain a foothold, holding a 2.6% stake in the company.

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