Comcast Now Owns Leisure Arts After Stock Deal with Liberty Media

by Lance Turner  on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 3:30 pm  

Liberty Media Corp. of Englewood, Colo., has shed ownership of Leisure Arts of Little Rock in a stock buy-back deal with Comcast Corp. of Philadelphia.

The deal, which includes Liberty shares, more than $400 million in cash and revenue-sharing rights related to financial cable news network CNBC, transfers ownership of Leisure Arts to Comcast, the cable giant that also owns NBCUniversal.

Leisure Arts is a publisher of lifestyle and instructional craft publications, ebooks, digital downloads, and DVDs. The company's 200,000-SF shipping and distribution facility is on Ranch Drive in west Little Rock. It has about 80 full-time employees.

Liberty purchased the company in 2007.

"This transaction has been in process for some time, and we are very comfortable with Comcast as a parent," Rick Barton, Leisure Arts' president and CEO, told Arkansas Business in an email. "I am staying with Leisure Arts -- going with Comcast -- and we anticipate continued top- and bottom-line growth.

"Liberty was a great parent and Comcast will be as well," he said. "I foresee no changes."

According to a Liberty news release, Liberty exchanged Leisure Arts, $417 million in cash and its rights to a revenue sharing agreement relating to the carriage of CNBC for 6.3 million shares of its own stock (Nasdaq: LMCA) held by Comcast.

Liberty said the exchange is intended to be tax free. The 6.4 million shares amounts to about 5.2 percent of the company's outstanding stock.

Also Thursday, Liberty announced it will sell its $500 million worth of shares in SiriusXM back to the satellite radio company. And Liberty said it would make a private offering of $500 million in convertible notes.

Liberty is controlled by billionaire businessman and philanthropist John Malone of Parker, Colo. Thursday's moves by Liberty were part of wider reshuffling of Malone's various assets.



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