Buenos Aires, Argentina --A speculated mega-deal that would
have transferred control of Liberty Media International Inc.'s stakes in various Argentine
media companies to Spain's Telefónica International S.A. (TISA) has fallen through -- at
least for now -- sources close to both sides confirmed.
As reported last week, TISA and Liberty were apparently
fine tuning a deal that would have been the former's first major purchase since stating
its intention to aggressively expand in Latin America.
The deal now appears to have been complicated by a dispute
between the partners over the terms of the buyout, but not specifically the offered price.
Though few details on the standstill were available, sources that previously said closure
was imminent now believe negotiations will drag on longer than expected.
Top Liberty executives have denied all along that they plan
to pull out of the Latin American media business, saying only that they were working to
resolve management tensions that had emerged between some of their investment partners.
Liberty and TISA are major shareholders in a leading
Argentine MSO, CableVisión, along with CEI Citicorp Holdings S.A. A regional rivalry is
thought to be emerging between TISA and CEI's controlling investor, privately held
investment firm Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Inc. of Dallas.
While CableVisión is at the core of the speculated deal,
TISA is also thought to be interested in securing Liberty's stakes in some programming