Liberty Takes a Charge

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Liberty Media Corp. took a $5 billion non-cash charge to earnings in the second quarter to reflect the declining value of its public-securities investments, resulting in a $4.6 billion loss for the first half of the year.

On a conference call with analysts, Liberty president Dob Bennett said the bulk of the writedown was for three falling stocks: AOL Time Warner Inc. ($2.35 billion); News Corp. ($1.39 billion); and Sprint PCS ($1.04 billion).

Those declines notwithstanding, Liberty's private businesses — Discovery Communications Inc., Starz Encore Group LLC and QVC Inc. — performed well.

Cash flow for the period was up 30 percent at Discovery, up 9 percent at Starz Encore and 23 percent at QVC. Liberty owns about 43 percent of QVC; Comcast Corp. owns the rest.

Top-line growth at the three companies came in at 4 percent, 11 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

CASEMA ON TRACK

Bennett also said that Liberty's announced plan to buy Dutch cable company Casema N.V. for $737 million in cash is moving forward. He added that Liberty also might re-enter the German cable market, after its $5.5 billion offer to buy Deutsche Telekom's cable assets was rejected by German regulators earlier this year.

DT has put those assets back on the market and said earlier this year that it had received about five bids for the cable assets. It declined to name the bidders.

"We're looking at that with some other players," Bennett said on the call. "We may well be back looking at those but as part of a consortium and in a different price range."

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