Malone Says Lions Gate Could Buy Starz, Other Networks - WSJ

Mergers and Acquisitions Reuters

Lions Gate Entertainment Corp could buy television network Starz and other "free radicals" in the industry, media mogul John Malone told the Wall Street Journal.

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Malone, who owns roughly 3 percent of Lions Gate, said in an annual meeting of his investment holding companies that new Internet-based TV offerings and "skinny" TV packages will put pressure on the traditional cable TV bundle, the Journal said.

Lions Gate had a 2.3 pct stake in Starz's series A common stock as of March 30.

Lions Gate was interested last year in pursuing a merger with Starz, but the two sides could not come to terms over valuation, the Journal said.

People close to both companies believe a rekindling of talks is likely, the paper added. (http://on.wsj.com/1eQ4O6W)

"Skinny" television packages are cheaper than traditional cable bundles that include hundreds of channels.

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Cable and satellite distributors have been seeking ways to stop consumers, especially younger ones, from dumping their cable subscriptions.

Scripps Networks Interactive Inc or AMC Networks Inc could also be Lions Gate's potential targets, Malone told the Journal on the sidelines of the meeting in Englewood, Colorado.

Lions Gate has looked at a scenario where it would take a stake in All3Media Ltd, which would help it work more closely with Discovery Communications Inc on scripted content, the Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Lions Gate is also interested in buying overseas TV companies, the daily said.

No deals are imminent, the Journal said, adding that some media investors believed that Malone's ideas won't materialize for some time.

Lions Gate and Scripps declined to comment. Liberty Media, AMC, Discovery and Starz were not immediately available for comment. 

(Reporting by Anya George Tharakan, Ramkumar Iyer and Sai Sachin R in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)