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Liberty Global looking to buy big stake in Formula 1

MUMBAI: International cable firm Liberty Global recently acquired a stake in UK TV giant ITV, and is now looking to acquire a big stake in the Formula 1 racing circuit.

Liberty Global chairman John Malone and CEO Mike Fries talk to Wall Street Journal about acquisition of ITV, further acquisitions and need for media consolidation to build scale.

Liberty Global recently acquired a 6.4 per cent stake in ITV from BSkyB. Fries told the Journal, “Are we committing today that we’ll never, ever own more shares? Of course not. We don’t have any intention to do anything. There is no smoking gun there.”

Malone added that a closer relationship with ITV could help Liberty Global in terms of its content supply, given its “very large production studio”.

He further stated that the company has continued talks about a possible deal to buy a stake in racing circuit Formula 1 with Discovery Communications, in which he also controls a big stake.‎

If the deal goes through, it could give both the companies access to valuable sports content, states the report.

“You have got to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince. At this stage we are still kissing the frogs,” mentioned Malone.

Speaking about recent industry deals and also a potential acquisition of Time Warner by 21st Century Fox, Malone stated, “It’s the ‘eat or be eaten’ drive of capitalism. Scale economics are compelling in the media space where you have high fixed and very low marginal costs.”

Fries added that consolidation is king. “Scale has always been critical for the industry, and I think it is more critical today than it has ever been.”

He further stated that amid globalisation and digital growth one needs to have great scale to compete with Google and Netflix.