Liberty Global: No Desire To Build On ITV Stake

But Exec Hints That Sports Assets on Radar
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Just months after it acquired a 6.4% interest in British public broadcaster ITV, Liberty Global said at an industry conference that it has no desire to beef up that stake at the moment.

Liberty Global purchased its interest in ITV, Britain’s largest free-to-air commercial broadcaster, in July for $822.4 million.  At the time the company CEO Mike Fries said the purchase was “an opportunistic and attractive investment in our largest cable market.”

But at Tuesday’s RTS London Conference, Liberty Global senior vice president and chief strategy officer Jim Ryan said the international cable powerhouse had no current plans to expand its stake.

According to a Reuters report, Ryan said LGI is looking to “enhance” its Virgin Media asset – it purchased the U.K.’s largest cable company in 2013 for $24 billion  – with additional programming and that the ITV stake gives it “a seat at the table at any UK content discussions.”

That could mean dipping its toes into sports programming.  Back in June speculation was high that Liberty Global – and its chairman, legendary dealmaker John Malone –paired with Discovery Communications to make a possible bid for racing icon Formula One. At the conference, Ryan said LGI would like to get into the sports rights game, but declined to be specific. Regarding Formula One, he said it was an attractive asset that LGI would look at, adding that he assumed others would do the same, according to the Reuters report.

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