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RAYCOM, LIBERTY CLOSE TO COMPLETING MERGER
Published June 9, 1995
Raycom is expected to sell a controlling interest in the company to Liberty Sports within the next 60 days, "forming one of the nation's biggest sports programmers," according to the issue of the Charlotte BUSINESS JOURNAL released today. Raycom CEO Rick Ray: "A lot is happening right now with negotiations, but it's just a little premature to go into the details. Things are progressing very well; I expect we'll have something in the next two months." Those close to the deal say Liberty will buy 80% of Raycom, with Raycom parent Ellis Communications retaining the other 20%. Ellis Communications President Bert Ellis said the joint business plans are still under discussion. Ellis: "The idea is that Liberty will be able to grow the company. Liberty doesn't have enough management to handle all their sports properties and Raycom would like to grow their sports properties." The deal, which has been under discussion since early May, "has become potentially more attractive for Raycom" since TCI Chair John Malone announced plans to split TCI and Liberty into two stocks. PaineWebber cable analyst Christopher Dixon: "Dividing the stock creates expansion. As for Raycom, they would be a clear beneficiary of that because it makes (Liberty) that much more valuable." Raycom is "one of the largest programmers and syndicators in college sports," while Liberty offers the cable systems through parent TCI, as well as its RSNs (Erik Spanberg, Charlotte BUSINESS JOURNAL, 6/12 issue).