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Malone: News Corp. Talks Stalled

Liberty Media Chairman John Malone has been unable to find a way to unwind his large position in News Corp. and expects to be a long-term shareholder.

During a conference call to discuss second-quarter eanrings, Malone said, “We have not been able to identify a large transaciton that would be a win for all three parties,” citing Liberty, News Corp. and the Murdoch family that has voting control over News Corp.Liberty last year abruptly increased its voting stake in News Corp. from 9% to 17%, startling company Chairman Rupert Murdoch and prompting him to establish defenses against an unwelcome takeover. Malone has talked to the company about several deals, including one that would involve a buyout of movie network Starz!. Malone says that his relationship with News Corp. is “quite friendly and supportive.”In the wake of the planned retirement of President and CEO Dob Bennet, Malone also said that he has assumed the CEO post immediately and expects to hold it for at least two years. Operationally, Liberty is a contrast. QVC is performing strongly, but Starz! is doing terribly. QVC’s total sales jumped 15% to $1.5 billion, while operating cash flow zoomed 17% to $324 million. Both QVC’s domestic and international home shopping operations were strong. Starz, on the other hand, posted decent 8% growth in revenues to $258 million, but cash flow plunged 24% to $47 million.