Liberty Media Investor Assembly Mixes Comedy With Information – Billboard

Liberty Media’s annual investor assembly represents a possibility for Chairman of the Board and legendary investor John Malone to current a ‘State of the Union’ on a portfolio that now consists of roughly one-third of Stay Nation, 80% satellite tv for pc radio big SiriusXM and extra e-commerce, communications and leisure corporations. And together with the requisite monetary data and optimistic portrayals of its portfolio corporations’ futures, this yr’s version, held Nov. 18, additionally showcased the corporate’s humorousness.

Held on the Instances Heart, a block away from Instances Sq., in Manhattan, this yr’s occasion drew just a few hundred buyers and analysts – fewer than common, in line with one attendee, probably as a result of “plenty of buyers moved to Miami.” Exterior the theater, attendees obtained a Liberty Media baggage tag with an Apple AirTag.

Nowadays, some shareholder conferences are as colourful as their onscreen counterparts: Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway hosts 30,000 shareholders in an 18,000-seat area with a festival-like expertise in an adjoining 194,000 square-foot conference middle, whereas Walmart’s investor assembly on the 20,000-capacity Bud Walton Area on the College of Arkansas has been in comparison with a non secular revival.

Liberty Media’s assembly is extra like a three-and-a-half-hour set on the Comedy Cellar. CEO Greg Maffei — additionally the chairman of Liberty-owned Stay Nation, SiriusXM and TripAdvisor — is understood for his sharp enterprise acumen, however he’s not afraid to indicate his humorousness. Final yr’s theme was the VH1 collection Behind the Music. This yr’s movies recorded by Maffei and different execs had been “streamed” from the fictional on-line service “Liberty+”, with a consumer interface modeled after that of Netflix. (Liberty Media tried to purchase Netflix when it was $8 a share so as to mix it with the satellite tv for pc TV supplier, DirecTV, Malone informed CNBC host David Faber on video throughout an hour-long interview on Thursday.)

The corporate’s brightest star isn’t a media firm, nevertheless. Within the lead-off skit, Maffei performed a member of a Formulation 1 pit crew in a send-up of Drive to Survive, the massively common Netflix docu-series that helped elevate the racing league’s profile world wide. In three seasons, Drive to Survive reached No. 1 in 27 counties, however nowhere is its success extra evident than in Liberty Media’s personal yard: The common viewership for Formulation 1 within the U.S. is up 61% in 2021 from 2020. What’s extra, about two-thirds of the 400,000 followers on the U.S. Grand Prix, held in Austin from October 22 to 24, had been first-time attendees, in line with the corporate’s presentation.

Different parody movies included the Netflix present Squid Recreation and Carpool Karaoke that includes Malone. “There are often extra movies,” stated an attendee, “they usually’ve been funnier.” However the skits introduced some levity to dry particulars about Liberty Media’s ability for monetary engineering. Optimizing taxes via convoluted possession buildings, deftly managing debt and liquidity, and shopping for again shares at a reduction to their internet asset worth could also be humorless workout routines, however they’re essential components of how John Malone has made his fortune.

Transient shows by prime Liberty Media chief execs had been stitched between the taped comedy sketches. Formulation One CEO Stefano Domenicali and Atlanta Braves CEO Derek Schiller appeared in recorded movies, and Witz, Rutledge and Stephen Kaufer of TripAdvisor had been readily available for shows. Stay Nation, fewer than two weeks faraway from the tragedy on the Astroworld pageant in Houston, was a notable absence from the assembly, however CEO Michael Rapino would have had excellent news to share: Stay Nation’s ramped up live shows in 2021 — festivals carried out particularly nicely — and guarantees a full tour pipeline in 2022 and 2023. Radio broadcaster iHeartMedia was additionally absent after Liberty Media offered off its 7 million shares — the ultimate 5.9 million on Oct. 5 —  for “a horny value” of $25.31 per share and after-tax proceeds of $175 million.

Beneath all of it, the assembly is a means to promote buyers and analysts on the way forward for Liberty Media’s portfolio corporations. SiriusXM highlighted its top-tier expertise and radio channels, 145 million automobiles enabled for satellite tv for pc radio and 31% advert income progress within the third quarter. Extra importantly to buyers, SiriusXM is basic Liberty Media: a cash-generating machine that’s structured to return worth to its shareholders. Liberty Media’s possession stake in SiriusXM’s lately surpassed 80%, which means it should now not pay taxes on dividends. (Past that threshold, the I.R.S. permits company shareholders to exclude dividend revenue to stop triple taxation.) What’s extra, SiriusXM introduced on Oct. 25 it should enhance its dividend by 50%.

Humorous skits are good, however money is healthier.

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