Liberty Media plans Starz spinoff

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Liberty Media Corp. on Wednesday said that it will spin off its Starz cable channels into a separate company, continuing a series of financial machinations in the Liberty family, which is controlled by cable magnate John Malone.

The move will give investors a better view of how Starz is doing, improve its capital structure and create two "currencies" in the form of shares that can be used for acquisitions, said Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei.

The move will also free up cash at Liberty Media, Maffei said. It has been buying shares of satellite radio broadcaster Sirius XM Radio Inc. and concert arranger Live Nation Entertainment Inc.

The spinoff should be completed late this year, Liberty Media said, and will be tax-free to Liberty Media shareholders. Liberty Media will be left with stakes in various companies and the Atlanta Braves baseball team.

In September, Liberty Media split off Liberty Interactive, which owns home shopping network QVC and has stakes in other businesses. Liberty Interactive said it would split its stock into two "tracking stocks."

Starz had been a tracking stock of Liberty Media until November.

Also Wednesday, Liberty said it owns 46 percent of Sirius XM Radio and plans to buy more, in its quest to take control of the company.

Starz's namesake network has 20.7 million subscribers and its Encore network had 34.2 million subscribers at the end of the second quarter. The division had $403 million in revenue in quarter, unchanged from a year ago.

Overall, Liberty Media, which is based in Englewood, Colo., said it earned $156 million in the second quarter. That was up from $89 million a year ago, chiefly because of an income tax benefit.

Revenue was $537 million, down slightly from $538 million a year ago.

Liberty Media's Class A shares were up 4 cents at $99.49 in midday trading. They are trading 4.6 percent below their 52-week high of $104.34 set in late November.

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