Liberty Media Corp. announced Wednesday that it has tapped Pete Boylan as
president and CEO of its new spinoff, Liberty Broadband Interactive Television
The subsidiary's first investment, also announced Wednesday, is an agreement
to take 87 percent voting control of middleware provider OpenTV Corp., as well
as 43 percent ownership, through a stock purchase.
Liberty has no immediate plans to have LBIT trade as a public stock, chief
operating officer Gary Howard said during a conference call Wednesday.
Howard called the OpenTV purchase and the creation of LBIT 'a timing
opportunity.' He noted that because the interactive-television segment is out of
favor, it was a good time to invest in interactive-TV companies with strong
growth prospects and clean balance sheets.
Boylan's availability -- he recently left Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc.
-- also played into the timing, Howard said.
OpenTV attracted LBIT because of its international customer base, strong
technology, management team, customer service and portfolio of intellectual
properties, Boylan said.
Liberty's relationships with multichannel-video providers and programmers in
the United States and abroad should help to drive OpenTV's business, OpenTV
president James Ackerman said.
'We are looking toward creating platforms and opportunities to create revenue
streams for MSOs and companies we have in this space,' Howard said.
Boylan said LBIT plans to provide strategic guidance to OpenTV's management,
as well as access to key relationships, 'and then get out of the way.'
The initial focus will be on developing interactive-advertising and
television-commerce applications, Boylan added.
OpenTV's biggest client in the United States is EchoStar Communications
Corp., which has deployed more than 4 million OpenTV-ready direct-broadcast
satellite receivers, Ackerman said.
The company has also done significant work overseas, where interactive TV has
been more aggressively deployed.
ACTV Inc. also said Wednesday that it has signed a letter of agreement with
Liberty to sell all remaining shares in the digital-media company that Liberty
does not already own. Howard said the company has a 65-day negotiating period to
work out a deal with ACTV. Liberty may contribute cash, its own stock or stock
in affiliate companies to close the deal.
Although LBIT will continue to look for other interactive-TV investments,
Boylan said the company was not interested in investing in a conditional-access
LBIT will be headquarted in Tulsa, Okla., and run by a small management team
focused on the interactive-TV sector.
Boylan owns a 10 percent stake in the company.
OpenTV stock closed at $5.08 per share
Wednesday, up 14.65 percent.
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