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Comcast in Pact to Unload Liberty Media Shares

A forward sale agreement will release up to 100 million shares.


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has effectively sold a major portion of its holdings of

Liberty Media

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, and Liberty has taken the opportunity to buy back some of its stock, the companies said Wednesday.

The transaction -- an outgrowth of the recent deal in which Liberty took full control of the QVC home shopping channel -- both raises money for Comcast and takes some pressure off of Liberty's stock, since investors have been waiting for Comcast to start selling the 217.7 million Liberty shares it received when it sold its majority stake in QVC to Liberty.

On Wednesday, Liberty's shares rose 9 cents to $10.77, while Comcast's shares rose 24 cents to $31.80.

Comcast says it received an $894 million up-front payment in a forward sale agreement which requires Comcast to deliver between 71.4 million and 100 million Liberty shares approximately 10 years from now. Comcast says it will use the cash for general corporate purposes, and will remain the beneficial owner of the shares until it surrenders the shares.

Liberty says it took the opportunity, as part of the Comcast sale, to repurchase 25 million shares of its common stock at a price the company didn't disclose. A Liberty executive said last month that though the company was interested in share repurchases, that goal was tempered by Liberty's higher priorities of being able to meet debt obligations and to maintain sufficient liquidity.