John Malone: ‘Cable Cowboy’ Faces The Test In Rounding Up The Right Mix Of Assets

John Malone: ‘Cable Cowboy’ Faces The Test In Rounding Up The Right Mix Of Assets via Cynthia Littleton, Variety

While he’s best known as a media mogul, John Malone holds a lesser-known distinction: He’s the largest individual landowner in the United States. The 75-year-old Liberty Media chairman has 2.2 million acres at his disposal, from majestic tracts of forest in Maine and New Hampshire to his Silver Spur Ranches, where cattle roam across Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado and Nebraska.

John Malone’s land holdings are much like his media-business interests these days: vast, disparate, and not contained merely to the U.S. — he even owns a castle in Ireland. And just as he amassed eye-popping acreage in the past decade with the goal of preservation and sustainability, the man known as the Cable Cowboy is on a mission to drive consolidation in the cable and content arenas, for the same stated reasons.

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The pending $67 billion acquisition by the Malone-affiliated Charter Communications of fellow cable operators Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks marks the return to action of the man also once dubbed Darth Vader for the power he exerted over the media business in the 1980s and ’90s.

John Malone, whose net worth is estimated by Forbes at $7.7 billion, also came back on Hollywood’s radar in a big way last year by assembling a 10% stake in Lionsgate through characteristically complex transactions involving three of his affiliated companies: Starz, Discovery Communications and Liberty Global. In Malone’s view, content companies need scale and global reach to survive in a world of infinite choice and extreme audience fragmentation.

But as the exec and his top lieutenants fire up efforts to grow the Liberty empire once again, big questions loom about whether consolidation is the answer in the current tech-dominated era, and whether the Liberty model of leveraging up its investments will be as effective if interest rates continue to rise.

“Investors are puzzled about how all of these different pieces are going to come together,” says Amy Yong, an analyst who follows Liberty for Macquarie Securities. “The market expects him to do something. There are a lot of pieces (in play) in all of those different media companies.”

Full article  via Cynthia Littleton, Variety here



John Malone’s Personal & Corporate holdings