News Corp. and Liberty Media have released the details of their planned asset swap.
Under terms of the deal, Liberty will give up its $11 billion (16.3%) stake in News Corp. in exchange for that company's ownership stake (38.4%) of satellite TV company DirecTV.
That puts cable pioneer and Liberty chief John Malone in the business of trying to grab eyeballs away from the wired world. It also keeps News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch from looking over his shoulder to make sure Malone wasn't trying to take over his company.
Liberty also gets three regional sports networks ((FSN Northwest, FSN Pittsburgh and FSN Rocky Mountain)) and $550 million in cash.
Shareholders still have to vote to approve the deal, but if they do, and it passes various regulatory reviews, it is expected to close by the second half of next year.
News Corp. said Friday that it thought the deal would unlock "tremendous value" for earnings on a tax-free basis, but some on Wall Street see Malone as getting the better deal.
Liberty last year upped its voting stake in News Corp. from 9% to 17%, startling company Chairman Rupert Murdoch and prompting him to take defensive action.
News Corp. has tried for years to get Liberty out of the company. In the past, for example, News Corp. offered Liberty several local TV stations, but the company apparently likes its broadcasting from space.
DirecTV's limited growth has frustrated News Corp., which could explain its willingness to part with it. Murdoch aggressively went after DirecTV for years, but has been so disappointed with it lately, he has reportedly referred to it as a "turd bird."--Anne Becker contributed to this report.
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