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Liberty Closer to SiriusXM

John Malone’s company to spin off Starz

Liberty Media owner John Malone plans to spin-off its Starz pay-television network into a separate company.

Wall Street analysts say the action would free up cash for Liberty, enabling the company to eventually take over another, like SiriusXM.

In announcing Liberty’s latest earnings, the company reported that Starz will become a separate company with about $1.5 billion of debt, Reuters reported.

Liberty Media bailed SiriusXM out of a debt crunch in 2009 and this year the company twice asked the FCC to declare it had “defacto” control of the satellite radio company. Liberty now owns 46% of SiriusXM.

The FCC rejected the company’s first attempt and Malone says he’s waiting to hear back from the commission on the second request.

Both Malone and SiriusXM CEO Mel Karmazin say the two companies talk regularly. Karmazin said this week he’d do whatever is in the shareholders’ and the company’s best interest.

Separating Starz could make a merger with SiriusXM easier, analysts predicted though Malone told analysts in an earnings announcement that the Starz move had no bearing on its plans for Sirius, according to the account.