Comcast and Liberty Media Set Stock Buyback Pact

NBCU parent gains Leisure Arts publisher, $417 mil and end to CNBC revenue-sharing deal in swap

Comcast Corp. is now in the business of crocheting, knitting and other artsy-craftsy activities through a just-completed stock deal with John Malone’s Liberty Media.

Liberty Media Corp. bought back 6.3 million Liberty shares, amounting to 5.2% of outstanding shares, that were held by Comcast in exchange for Liberty’s Leisure Arts, Inc., a publisher of lifestyle and craft how-to guides, as well as approximately $417 million in cash and Liberty’s right to share in CNBC’s revenue.

The deal was a typically complex Liberty transaction designed to be tax free for both sides. Comcast’s stake in Liberty stemmed from former’s sale of home shopping channel QVC to the latter in 2003. The CNBC revenue-sharing agreement went all the way back to the  Tele-Communications Inc. days, when Malone lorded over cable programmers as the owner of the nation’s largest MSO. A Comcast rep declined to elaborate on the details of that revenue-sharing deal.

Liberty on Thursday also announced it had reached a deal with Sirius XM Satellite Radio to sell $500 million Sirius shares back to the company as part of Sirius’ stock buyback program, which has been boosted by another $2 billion. Liberty will still control 52% of Sirius shares after the transaction.

Liberty also announced plans to make a private offering of $500 million in convertible notes. Company said the coin would be used to pay down a portion of its outstanding margin loans and general corporate purposes.

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