TCI Satellite Entertainment appears poised to shed its
image as the holding company for the former PrimeStar Inc., an identity which has dogged
the firm since it sold most of its PrimeStar assets to DirecTV Inc. last year.
At mid-month, TSAT announced that Liberty Media had closed
a previously-announced deal to exchange more than 5 million shares of its Sprint Corp. PCS
common stock, worth about $300 million, for a majority interest in TSAT.
After Liberty announced its plans to invest in TSAT last
December, shares of TSAT stock increased dramatically in value. At its low point a year
ago, TSAT stock traded below $1 a share. Last December, it topped $20 a share. The stock
has been trading in the mid-teens in recent weeks.
The companies this month also announced a joint venture,
Liberty Satellite LLC, which would hold and manage Liberty's satellite-related interests.
Liberty Media contributed to the venture shares in XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc., iSKY
Inc., Astrolink International LLC and Sky Latin America. TSAT contributed the General
Motors Class H common stock it received through the sale of its PrimeStar assets.
TSAT also contributed to the joint venture the interest in
Denver-based high-speed Internet access company Jato Communications Corp., which it
purchased last September. Coincidentally, former TSAT treasurer William Myers joined Jato
Liberty Media will retain an 89.41 percent ownership stake
in Liberty Satellite LLC, while TSAT will have a 10.59 percent interest in the joint
TSAT also paid $60 million in an unsecured promissory note
to Liberty Media for a 14.12 percent interest in a limited liability company with holdings
in Astrolink, which plans to launch a two-way broadband service via satellite.
TSAT plans to change its name to Liberty Satellite &
Technology Inc. following shareholder approval.
Liberty Satellite & Technology is "a more defining
name for what the company will be going forward," Janco Partners analyst Ted
Henderson said last week. Henderson called the new TSAT -- or Liberty Satellite -- a
totally different company than it was a year ago.
The joint venture will also give long-time TSAT executives
a business to manage. TSAT management will be responsible for running the day-to-day
operations of the satellite joint venture.
"Liberty is pleased to have the experienced management
of TSAT fully engaged in the activities of our satellite businesses, while actively
seeking complementary business opportunities in broadband satellite delivery
worldwide," Liberty Media senior vice president and former PrimeStar Inc. CEO Carl
Vogel said in a news release.
TSAT chief financial officer Kenneth Carrol registered the
above transactions in a Form 8-K report filed last Wednesday with the Securities and
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