John Malone’s Liberty Global Buys Stake In STX

STX is getting an investment from Liberty Global, the latest deal made by John Malone’s international TV and broadband company. As part of the stake pact, Liberty Global chief programming officer Bruce Mann will join STX’s board of directors.

John Malone
Malone Associated Press

No terms or amounts were disclosed in the press release STX sent out this afternoon, though the Wall Street Journal is reporting it’s a $35 million investment that values the studio founded by Robert Simonds and TPG Growth’s Bill McGlashan at $1.37 billion. The infusion comes ahead of a planned IPO on the Hong Kong stock exchange sometime next year in which the company plans to raise $500M.

Last year, STX was valued at $1.5B as it seeks to model itself to become a major entertainment company along the lines Viacom. That would require international heft that Liberty could well provide: Liberty Global operates in more than 30 countries with 24 million customers subscribing to its TV, Internet and telephony services, and has more than 10 million mobile subscribers hungry for content.

“Having one of the world’s biggest content distributors incentivized in STX’s continued success is gratifying confirmation of our brand and business strategy,” said STX chairman and CEO Robert Simonds. “We look forward to benefiting from Bruce and Liberty Global’s counsel to accelerate our plans for expansion.”

Mann joins a STX board includes leaders from private equity firms TPG and China-based Hony Capital, Chinese Internet giant Tencent, Hong Kong telco PCCW, and the business interests of Gigi Pritzker and Dominic Ng among others.

In August 2016, Tencent and Hong Kong telecom giant PCCW led an investment round in STX with the aim of building out its studio.

In July, TPG Growth, whose parent TPG also owns a majority stake in CAA, teamed with Liberty Global to launch a worldwide television production and distribution studio dubbed Platform One Media. It took a minority equity stake via Liberty Global Group in its first major foray into TV production and distribution.

At the time, Mann signaled the idea behind the venture, saying, “Platform One Media has the key ingredients Liberty Global values in a strategic asset: great leadership, a clear vision and aligned, well capitalized partners. It also gives us the opportunity to work with world-class talent creating high-quality scripted programming which could potentially feature on Liberty Global’s pay-TV platforms in Europe.”

The STX deal would seem to expand on that idea. Its movie side STXfilms just released the Jackie Chan-starring U.S.-China co-production The Foreigner and A Bad Moms Christmas, the follow-up to its biggest theatrical hit to date. It will bow the Aaron Sorkin-directed Molly’s Game on December 25 in a major awards-season play.

Meanwhile, STXtv recently announced Valley of the Boom which will premiere globally on National Geographic.

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