Liberty's Malone says he'll exit Charter if pressured by regulators over TWC, Bright House deals

Charter Communications' (NASDAQ: CHTR) biggest shareholder, Liberty Media impresario John Malone, said he'll back away from the MSO if that's what's needed for federal regulators to approve its mergers with Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and Bright House Networks. 

John Malone, Liberty Global

Malone

"When my ownership and participation in DirecTV became an antitrust issue, I negotiated an exit for me so that DirecTV could go forward without these issues. So, you know, my phone number is well known," he told CNBC's David Faber.

Merger opponents have complained that Malone's holdings are too expansive across programming and pay-TV -- in addition to Liberty, Malone also has a significant controlling interest in Discovery Networks and Starz.

Faber asked if Malone would abandon his stake in Discovery so that Charter could buy TWC and Bright House.

"No, but I could exit Charter," he responded. "I mean, why would I exit Discovery when that is a double band shot, if you want to call it that."

Malone added, "If the problem of Charter being able to do this transaction is me, I don't have to be part of Charter's controlling ownership."

Three companies list Malone as chairman: Liberty Media Corp, Liberty Interactive Corp. (owner of QVC) and Liberty Broadband. The latter is Charter's biggest shareholder, controlling nearly 27 percent of shares. 

Earlier this week, it was reported that the FCC sent queries asking for details about Malone's holdings in media companies including Discovery Networks and Starz, as well as pay-TV companies including Charter, DirecTV (NYSE: T) and Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH). 

Media analyst Richard Greenfield described the query to Bloomberg as "a pretty meaningful request."

For more:
- read this CNBC transcript

Related articles:
Dish says Charter-TWC merger 'not in public interest'; AT&T and Verizon look to limit Malone's control
Liberty's Malone: Cable companies could add wireless through MVNOs, but should be cautious on spectrum purchases
FCC examining Malone's holdings amid Charter-TWC review

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