February 25, 2009 / 5:02 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Liberty Media posts operating loss on writedowns

* Q4 operating loss $1.297 bln on writedowns

* Q4 sales at QVC down 8 pct

* Cut senior debt at QVC parent by $1.4 bln

* Now owns 54 pct of DirecTV

NEW YORK, Feb 25 (Reuters) - John Malone’s Liberty Media Corp posted a quarterly operating loss on Wednesday due to writedowns at its Liberty Entertainment unit LMDIA.O and falling sales at its QVC cable TV shopping channel.

The conglomerate of media and Internet assets posted a quarterly operating loss of $1.297 billion, compared with a year-earlier operating profit of $63 million, across its three main units: Liberty Interactive LINTA.O, Liberty Entertainment and Liberty Capital LCAPA.O.

Liberty Media operates under these three tracking stocks to allow investors to more closely follow its businesses. It has also agreed to lend $530 million to Sirius XM Radio Inc (SIRI.O) in exchange for a 40 percent stake [ID:nN17352330]. Investors hope executives will talk about their plans for Sirius on the earnings conference call later on Wednesday.

Liberty Interactive, the unit which owns QVC and several e-commerce companies, posted a 44 percent drop in operating income to $226 million during the quarter. Sales fell by 4 percent to $2.38 billion.

The unit also reduced its senior debt load by $1.4 billion and said QVC had bank debt of $5.23 billion at Dec. 31, 2008. It shares fell 2.9 percent to $3.40 on the Nasdaq.

Liberty Entertainment, which holds the Starz Entertainment cable TV company, reported a loss of $1.15 billion after one-time impairment charges of $1.26 billion. Revenue increased 26 percent to $360 million.

Liberty Media said in December it would split off a majority of the assets and liabilities of Liberty Entertainment into a separate company, which would include its controlling stake in U.S. satellite TV operator DirecTV Group Inc DTV.O.

The company said its economic stake in DirecTV increased to almost 54 percent through a share buyback. It said its voting control remains at 48 percent following a previous standstill agreement.

Operating losses at Liberty Capital widened slightly to $377 million while revenue increased by 44 percent to $131 million.

Liberty Media said it repurchased 1.6 million Liberty Capital shares from Oct. 30 through Feb. 24, representing on a cumulative basis almost 26 percent of those shares.

Shares of Liberty Media and Liberty Capital edged lower in morning trading on the Nasdaq. (Reporting by Yinka Adegoke, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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