Following 21st Century Fox CEO Chase Carey’s assertion that it was not planning to acquire UK commercial Public Service Broadcaster ITV, Jim Ryan, Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, Liberty Global, has said that the cable MSO was not planning to build on the 6.4 per cent stake in the pubcaster it acquired from BSkyB mid-July 2014. He said that Liberty Global had always seen investment in content as an ancillary business to its distribution operations, where scale was “absolutely key”.
Speaking at the RTS London Conference 2014, Ryan noted that 24 months previously, Liberty Global did not have a presence in the UK, prior to its February 2013 acquisition of UK cableco Virgin Media. “Now it’s where our largest operator is based,” he said, adding that Liberty Global wanted to try to find some portfolio investments that enhanced the value of the Virgin Media acquisition.
At the time of the ITV share deal, Mike Fries, Liberty Global’s Chief Executive Officer, described the stake as “an opportunistic and attractive investment” for the operator in its largest cable market., and Ryan told Conference delegates that Liberty Global had “no current plans” to build on that stake.
He admitted that acquiring further sports rights remained of interest, amid ongoing speculation that Liberty Global and Discovery Communications are seeking to take a 49 per cent stake in Formula One Group from private equity player CVC Capital Partners. “Sport for a pay-TV company is a very good asset,” he said.