Malone, cable deals in spotlight at Sun Valley conference

Sun Jul 7, 2013 8:16pm EDT
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By Liana B. Baker

(Reuters) - Liberty Media Corp LMCA.O Chairman John Malone, who has bought and sold cable and media companies for decades, might be the most popular billionaire roaming the Sun Valley Resort as deal making returns to the spotlight at the annual gathering of media and tech moguls.

Known as "the King of Cable," the 72-year-old is one of the 300 or so executives expected to attend the conference that runs Tuesday through Friday in Idaho. The gathering, hosted by Allen & Co, a New York-based investment bank, has a history of launching landmark media deals such as Comcast's acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2009, but has been quieter in recent years.

The guests, who shed their suits for khakis and fleece vests for the week in Sun Valley, attend lectures on politics, business and other subjects, which are closed to the press. They are given plenty of time to socialize at group lunches, dinners and barbecues. Close attention is paid to who huddles with whom and who takes bike rides together.

Bob Iger, the CEO of Walt Disney Co (DIS.N: Quote), Les Moonves, the CEO of CBS Corp (CBS.N: Quote), and Rupert Murdoch of Twenty-First Century Fox (FOXA.O: Quote), formerly News Corp, will be hiking or playing golf with their fellow moguls.

Barry Diller, the chairman of IAC/InterActive Corp IACI.O, and his wife, the designer Diane von Furstenberg, will also be there.

On the tech side, guests will include Facebook Inc (FB.O: Quote) founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple (AAPL.O: Quote) CEO Tim Cook, (AMZN.O: Quote) CEO Jeff Bezos, Google Inc's (GOOG.O: Quote) Sergey Brin, Eric Schmidt and Larry Page, and Netflix (NFLX.O: Quote) CEO Reed Hastings.

Venture capitalists and private equity chiefs expected to attend include Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz LLC and Henry Kravis of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.

The dealmaking pace could pick up now that the U.S. economy is finding its footing, said Todd Davison, a New York-based partner in the investment bank Centerview Partners. He said he expects to see more strategic transactions across cable and the traditional media sector.   Continued...

Chairman of Liberty Media John Malone attends the Allen & Co Media Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho July 12, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart