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Business Briefs

Jun 17, 2002  •  Post A Comment

The public spinoff of Time Warner Cable’s systems is looking more “like a viable option,” according to Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif Cohen, who hosted major media executives in an investors conference on June 13 in London. Bob Pittman, chief operating officer for AOL Time Warner, told attendees that the company will not pay cash to buy out its Time Warner Entertainment partners and is looking to swap or match assets and mutual interests. “The company’s goal is to simplify and increase transparency within its cable segment,” Mr. Pittman said.
Viacom CEO Mel Karmazin told the investor crowd that the company is open to acquisitions, both in the United States and abroad, and would like to see international revenues increase. Until then, it is focused on bringing all its television station margins up to the low-40-percent range through aggressive cost management and duopolies, he said.
Liberty Media President Dob Bennett used the occasion to announce a tender offer for up to $4.2 billion in Telewest bonds at an average $0.42 purchase price. Ms. Cohen said she views the move as a first step to protecting Liberty’s 25 percent stake in the United Kingdom’s Telewest by gaining “a seat at the table” for the company’s potential debt restructuring in Liberty’s continuing push into cable and satellite outside of the United States.
TriStar, German firms in bid for KirchMedia
Columbia TriStar, the U.S. television production and distribution arm of Sony Pictures Entertainment, has joined two German firms in bidding an estimated 2 billion euros for KirchMedia, part of Germany’s Kirch Group, which filed for bankruptcy in April. Terms were still being negotiated.