Rupert Murdoch wants John Malone to get out of his hair. To that end, Murdoch might be offering Malone DirecTV. Murdoch's News Corp. is proposing to Malone's Liberty Media a tax-free exchange of its DirecTV stake in return for the $10 billion stake Liberty owns in News Corp., according to a report by CNBC's David Faber.
Both News Corp. president Peter Chernin and Liberty CEO Greg Maffei have been hinting to investors at a Merrill Lynch media conference today that a swap may be under way, according to the report.
Liberty last year abruptly increased its voting stake in News Corp. from 9% to 17%, startling company Chairman Rupert Murdoch and prompting him to establish defenses against an unwelcome takeover.
News Corp. has tried unsuccessfully for years to lure Liberty out of the company., but has never offered anything Malone deemed worthy of exchanging for his stake, 188 million voting shares and 324 million non-voting shares. In the past, for example, News Corp. offered Liberty several local stations .
With the satellite business limited in its growth, DirecTV has frustrated News Corp. lately which could explain the company's willingness to part with it. Murdoch aggressively went after DirecTV for years, but has been so disappointed with it lately, he has called it a "turd bird."