Time Warner Reaches Deal to Sell Braves

Tuesday, February 13th 2007, 7:15 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Time Warner Inc. finalized an agreement Monday to sell the Atlanta Braves to Liberty Media Corp. after more than a year of negotiations.

The deal, which values the team at $450 million, was submitted to Major League Baseball for its approval process, two people familiar with the deal said, speaking on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made and publicly traded companies were involved.

The parties hope baseball will approve the sale in time for the team to be transferred by opening day, the person said. Under the agreement, Terry McGuirk will remain in charge of the team after the sale. General manager John Schuerholz and manager Bobby Cox also are expected to remain on, the person said.

The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the finalization on its Web site, said Time Warner will transfer the Braves, a group of craft magazines and $1 billion in cash to Liberty in exchange for about 60 million shares of Time Warner. Based on the closing price of Time Warner's stock Monday, the market value of those shares would be about $1.27 billion.

Liberty Media spokesman John Orr and Time Warner spokesman Ed Adler declined to comment.

``We received certain of the sale documents today but have not yet reviewed them,'' said Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer.

He said baseball staff will go over the documents to make sure they meet baseball's usual sale rules.

``It will then go to the ownership committee, then will go to the executive council, then will go to the clubs,'' he said.

The parties had waited to receive tax opinions before reaching an agreement, the person involved in the deal said. The agreement was designed to minimize taxes.

Liberty currently has about 170 million shares of Time Warner, which is equivalent to a stake of about 4 percent of the media company, whose holdings include Time Warner Cable, HBO, AOL, CNN, Warner Bros. and Time Inc. The deal would reduce the size of Liberty's stake in Time Warner to about 2.6 percent.

Time Warner acquired the Braves when it bought Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting Systems from Ted Turner in the mid-1990s.