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Liberty Media Names New CEO, Plans to Combine QVC With Interactive Stakes

Nov 9, 2005  •  Post A Comment

John Malone’s Liberty Media took two steps Wednesday toward reshaping its future, naming a former Microsoft executive as CEO and announcing plans to create a tracking stock for its interactive businesses.

Gregory Maffei, who once was Microsoft’s chief financial officer and most recently served as co-president of software company Oracle, was tapped to replace Mr. Malone, who had been interim CEO since August, when Robert Bennett announced his resignation from the chief executive post. Mr. Maffei will officially join Liberty next spring, when he will also assume the position of president, but he will work closely with Mr. Malone and Mr. Bennett in the interim.

Liberty also announced it will combine its home-shopping channel QVC with stakes Liberty has in several interactive companies, including IAC/InterActiveCorp and Expedia, into a tracking stock that could be named Liberty Capital.

Mr. Malone said the move aims to provide further transparency to investors, many of whom have complained that Liberty’s asset mix has been a challenge to value fairly. It is unclear what sort of strategy the new entity could have.

Also Wednesday, the company reported that it swung to a third-quarter loss of $94 million, compared with a year-earlier profit of $372 million, as the company was hurt by debt losses and higher expenses. Revenue rose 13 percent to $1.9 billion.

The revenue figure reflected a 14 percent increase in to $1.5 billion at QVC, driven by strong sales at both its domestic and international operations. Those gains offset flat revenue figures at Starz Encore Group, whose unchanged revenue figure of $245 million for the quarter reflected subscriber growth offset by a new affiliation agreement with Comcast that pays Starz less than a previous pact with AT&T Broadband, which Comcast acquired two years ago.