Liberty Media chief John Malone has confirmed that Altice, Verizon, SoftBank and an unnamed fourth company have made acquisition overtures recently to Charter Communications, for which Liberty is the largest shareholder.
"The problem is none of them at this point have made a pitch that was worthy of bringing it to the board and proposing it seriously to the board,” said Malone, in an interview with CNBC yesterday.
Malone’s comments came just days after the New York Post reported—citing its usual unnamed sources—that he’s at odds with Charter Chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge, who is adamant about not selling Charter.
“We have a wonderful business and wonderful business plan," Malone added. "Anything I'm involved in is for sale every day of the week. The store is always open. … Have we seen anything yet that gets even close to ringing the bell? No."
According to the Post, Rutledge is coveting stock options that could be worth tens of millions of dollars to him personally if he can keep working through Charter’s integration and cord-cutting issues, and get the stock up to $564. It’s currently worth around $348 a share.
Also speaking yesterday at Liberty’s investor day presentation, Malone remarked on AT&T’s regulatory challenges in regard to its proposed $85 billion purchase of Time Warner Inc. Is Donald Trump really behind the Justice Department’s decision to force AT&T to divest CNN and Turner Networks if it wants the deal made?
"I personally have very little insight into what the antitrust division is smoking these days," Malone said.
The Justice Department readily signed off on Liberty’s $1.12 billion purchase of Alaska’s GCI in June.
"At the moment, we don't seem to be running into that [regulatory pushback] ourselves, yet," he said.