AMC Breaks Big, Buys Chellomedia for $1.035 Billion, Shares Drop

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- AMC Networks, the owner of the Breaking Bad series, plans to buy Chellomedia, the international division of John Malone's Liberty Global (LBTYA) in a deal valued at 750 million Euros or about $1.035 billion that will allow the New York-based company to distribute its movies and entertainment programming to channels reaching 390 million households in 138 countries.

Shares of AMC were falling 2.9% to $68.32 on news of the deal while Liberty Global was rising 1.7% to $81.49.

The transaction, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014, will give AMC multiple platforms on which to show  programming from its AMC channel as well as IFC, Sundance Channel and WE tv. AMC said it would combine Chellomedia with its  AMC/Sundance Channel Global until, which has carried the bulk of the company's international distribution efforts.

Liberty Global, which is controlled by cable-TV innovator John Malone, put its international business up for sale in May, pricing the unit between $800M and $1B, The Wall Street Journal reported. AMC will acquire Liberty Global's Chello Central Europe, Chello Latin America, Chello Multicanal, Chello Zone, the ad sales unit Atmedia and the broadcast unit Chello DMC.

AMC has gained 42% this year as television shows Breaking Bad, Mad Men and The Walking Dead became cult favorites.

"We saw in Chellomedia assets that had been very well developed, financially disciplined, stable with good upside, and a very strong management team across the globe," Josh Sapan, President and CEO of AMC Networks, said in an investor conference call. "And we saw what we believe to be a terrific basis from which to improve, hopefully, and strengthen the businesses with increased programming and better, increased program investment and stronger programming leading to revenue upside and good growth." 

--Written by Leon Lazaroff in New York.

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