He's at it again.
Liberty Media's John Malone is angling for a sizable stake in another freshly merged company that had to jump through concessionary hoops to get regulators to sign off on the long-delayed nuptials.
A year ago, Malone's Liberty Capital
Liberty Media, already the owner of a 14.6% stake in Live Nation through its subsidiaries, is issuing a tender offer to acquire as many as 34.5 million more shares at $12 apiece. If the deal is fully subscribed (and it will be, as long as Live Nation's stock continues to trade below the tender price), Liberty Media's stake in the event promoter will more than double to nearly 35%.
Malone's move comes a day after the Justice Department signed off on Live Nation's purchase of Ticketmaster. However, the regulators approved the deal only after the company agreed to certain measures that will encourage competition for venue ticketing. Those concessions should, at least in theory, keep ticket prices low and add-on fees honest.
Good luck with that, regulators! Cynics will quickly point out that Sirius XM Radio's deal was approved under the condition that rates would be frozen for three years. Well, most satellite-radio subscribers are paying more these days as a result of music royalty fees, premium streaming charges, and higher monthly rates on secondary receivers.
Live Nation's concessions may open the door to competition, but we all know that it wouldn't have played along if it didn't think it could be more powerful post-merger.
A chunkier stake in Live Nation will be just another trophy on Malone's mantle. Liberty Media subsidiaries have stakes in everything from Time Warner
My vote is on the mosaic. The Live Nation deal isn't going to be as sweet as his Sirius XM Radio play, where he has a preferred-stock stake now worth billions in exchange for lending the satellite-radio provider $580 million in a time of need. Malone is already paying a premium just to get into the Live Nation show. However, it won't be long before the cover charge is justified once he finds a way to unlock the synergies.
Isn't it just a matter of time before the Sirius and XM music genre stations begin branding national music tours with Live Nation in the middle?
Malone doesn't look like much of a rocker, but he sure knows how to roll.
What to you think Malone will do with all of these pieces? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a subscriber to both Sirius and XM. He owns no shares in any of the stocks in this article and is also a member of the Rule Breakers analytical team, seeking out the next great growth stock early in its defiance. The Fool has a disclosure policy.
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