The stock price increased 5.6% today after The Wall Street Journal reported that Starz has hired an investment bank to look for deals — which followed a Los Angeles Times report that execs from the premium network company met this week with 21st Century Fox. It doesn’t look like anything is imminent. The Fox meeting is being described as a mere “courtesy” — the Journal says Fox has “no interest” in Starz. And anyone interested in buying the company has known it was available since the beginning of last year when John Malone spun it off from his Liberty Media empire (while keeping 45.5% of the voting shares).
Still, Starz is considered ripe for some kind of transaction. Lots of media moguls are eyeing deals at a time when Comcast is preparing to acquire Time Warner Cable, AT&T has a pact with DirecTV, and Fox made an aborted run at Time Warner. Also, bears have taken Starz shares down 6.4% since early April, a period when the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 4.1%. With a market value of $3.2B, Starz would be relatively easy to digest for buyers looking for a foothold in the premium network business.
restimate the programming costs at the networks and underestimate potential revenue from electronic sell-through and international syndication of owned shows,” Sterne Agee’s Vasily Karasyov said last week.