Time Warner takes control of Court TV
Media conglomerate buys half of cable network it didn't already own from partner Liberty Media for $735 million.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Time Warner announced a deal Friday to buy the half of Court TV that it doesn't already own from partner Liberty Media for $735 million.
The network, which reaches 86 million homes, will become part of Turner Broadcasting.
Liberty Media (Research) holds a 4 percent stake in Time Warner (Research), although those shares contain restrictions on their sale and their voting power. Liberty CEO, Greg Maffei, told investors during a March conference call that his company had been in discussions about Liberty possibly buying some of Time Warner's assets.
The Wall Street Journal reported in March that those discussions might have led to Liberty Media taking full ownership of Court TV, rather than selling its stake in the network.
But Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons revealed during the company's conference call with investors last week, that Time Warner is in discussions to be a buyer for Liberty's stake in Court TV for cash, and that it was also in discussions with Liberty about exchanging its Time Warner shares for what he described as a significant but non-strategic asset.
There has been speculation that asset is the Atlanta Braves baseball team owned by Time Warner. Time Warner announced earlier this year it was exploring a possible sale of the ball team, and it has already sold the regional cable network that carries the Braves game.
Time Warner had been primarily focused on making acquisitions of cable operators, not cable networks, before Friday's announcement. It is trying to complete a deal to purchase many of the assets of the bankrupt Adelphi Communications. In addition to selling the Turner South network that carried the Braves, the company sold a half interest in the Comedy Central network to its joint venture partner Viacom for $1.23 billion in a deal announced in August 2003.
"Acquiring all of Court TV represents a strategic investment in one of Time Warner's most successful lines of business – our news and entertainment cable networks," said Parsons in a statement Friday. "We're confident that Court TV will continue its top-notch performance and become an important contributor to our growth."
Shares of Liberty Interactive (Research), a tracking stock which began trading earlier this week, were down about 2 percent in afternoon trading, although the stock regained some of its earlier losses on the announcement. Shares of Time Warner were up about 1 percent in afternoon trading.