Liberty's Malone gives executives option to buy his stakes

Wed Feb 19, 2014 11:52am EST

Feb 19 (Reuters) - Liberty Global PLC Chairman John Malone has given two executives a chance to buy his voting stakes in Liberty and Discovery Communications Inc in the event he decides to sell his shares, according to regulatory filings on Tuesday.

Malone is giving Liberty Global CEO Michael Fries first right of refusal and the right of last offer to purchase Malone's 27.5 percent voting stake in the international cable operator worth about $772 million.

Malone set up a similar structure for Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav. Liberty Global holds a 29.5 percent stake with voting rights in Discovery Communications worth about $525 million. Discovery owns a group of cable networks including TLC and Animal Planet.

Malone said he had no plans at present to transfer his voting shares and would stay actively involved in both Liberty Global and Discovery Communications.

"In the event I do in the future decide to pursue the sale of my voting position, I am excited about providing these two strong executives, who have both created significant shareholder value, with a path toward acquiring that stake and preserving the long-term stability and continuity of the companies they have built and will continue leading into the future," he said in a statement.

Malone is a constant deal maker and most recently made a run at Time Warner Cable through the much smaller rival Charter Communications, which Malone controls. Comcast Corp announced last week it agreed to buy Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion.

Liberty Global and Discovery Communications have reportedly made an approach to buy a stake in auto racing company Formula One.

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