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Maffei: Starz Better Off in Other Hands?

Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei reheated speculation that its Starz premium channel could be sold after its planned spin-off later this year, telling an audience at an industry conference that the network might be better off in other hands.

Maffei, speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., last Wednesday, said that while the spin is a way to unlock value for Liberty shareholders and that he is confident Liberty can continue to run the asset, "there's always the possibility somebody could do better with the business than we can."

Liberty announced its intention to spin Starz as a separate entity on Aug. 8. The spin would be executed as a dividend to existing shareholders and would make Starz, currently a tracking stock, an asset-backed security.

Speculation that Starz could be sold has been rampant since the decision to spin the asset was announced, Potential suitors include Comcast, Time Warner Inc. and others.

Liberty plans to spin the non-Starz assets currently held in the Starz tracker to shareholders in a new entity that will be named Liberty Media. The remaining assets – 100% of Starz, $1.5 billion in debt and an undetermined amount of cash – will be part of a separate publicly traded company called Starz.