Liberty Media's John Malone on the Cable Hunt
Sun Valley is always about deal makers and deal maestros. Liberty Media's John Malone, who made a late arrival on Wednesday, knows a thing or two about how to do a deal.
Even though he arrived later than most, it hasn't taken him long to start generating buzz about plans to expand his cable empire. Sources tell me he spent his afternoon in meetings with a range of cable-related companies, as he looks for ways to snap up more cable assets.
Sources tell me that he is still very much interested in buying Time Warner Cable, despite the fact that the cable giant's CEO Glenn Britt has rebuffed him. I'm told by sources that the company just doesn't see how selling to Liberty would benefit its shareholders.
But since Liberty invested in Charter earlier this year -- a $2.6 billion dollar deal for 27 percent of the cable company, Malone has been feeling out ways to buy more cable assets. Since Charter bought some Cablevision assets before the Cox investment earlier this year, there have been reports that Charter could buy the New York-area cable operator outright. But Malone is also looking at other smaller cable players -- like Cox Communications, or even smaller cable assets.
What's Malone's game plan? Sources tell me he sees value in broadband as do many of the cable operators like Comcast. The cable giants have been growing profits from high-speed premium broadband. With the possibility for tiered pricing as consumers stream more and more video online, the potential to cash in on reach into millions of homes is even greater. And, it's not necessarily based on cable distribution, but rather on those broadband pipes.
(CNBC is owned by Comcast's NBC Universal unit.)
What will Malone accomplish? Skeptics here-- high-placed in the world of media and technology-- caution that Malone isn't approaching these assets like he's really serious about buying them. Instead, certain sources warn Malone could be using the buzz to boost the value of his stake in Charter.
—By CNBC's Julia Boorstin. Follow her on Twitter: @JBoorstin