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Will HSN Be Ensnared in Liberty's Web?

All the slicing up of media assets in the industry heralds the eclipse of giant media conglomerates, like News Corp., Time Warner (TWX - Get Report) and Disney (DIS). Even smaller companies like Belo Corp. (BLO) and E.W. Scripps (SSP) have recently announced break-ups to separate their slower-growth businesses, like newspapers, from the rest of their portfolio.

Liberty CEO Gregory Maffei said on a conference call with analysts following the company's earnings release that he was pleased with plans to break up IAC.

"I think it highlights the value of the components there, which we don't think have been fully recognized in the marketplace, and I think it allows us to begin a dialogue with IAC about how we're going to work together in the next phase of our relationship," Maffei said.

Malone has disagreed with Diller over the make-up of IAC's balance sheet, where he sees more opportunity to take on debt and return value to shareholders.

"In the past, Malone has preferred to have a leveraged business model to the extent that cash flows can support leverage, and Barry Diller has always been more conservative and has been running a net cash balance," says Shelton. "There has been back-and-forth over the years in which Malone has encouraged him to increase the leverage either through share repurchases or perhaps through acquisitions."

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