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John Malone’s Liberty Global buys stake in STX Entertainment

Kristen Bell, from left, Mila Kunis and Kathryn Hahn in the STX Entertainment comedy “Bad Moms.”
Kristen Bell, from left, Mila Kunis and Kathryn Hahn appear in a scene from the STX Entertainment comedy “Bad Moms.”
(Michele K. Short / STX Enterainment)

Media mogul John Malone’s Liberty Global has taken an interest in STX Entertainment, the startup film and TV studio behind the “Bad Moms” movies.

Liberty Global, Malone’s international television and broadband provider run by Chief Executive Michael Fries, has invested an undisclosed amount in the Burbank studio, the companies said Thursday.

Financial terms were not revealed and executives were not made available for interviews.

The deal values the company at about $1.5 billion, the same amount that the studio was worth when Chinese technology giant Tencent and Hong Kong telecom firm PCCW invested last year, according to people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to comment.

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Other investors in STX include TPG Growth, China’s Hony Capital, producer Gigi Pritzker and East West Bank Chairman Dominic Ng.

In Liberty, STX is getting a powerful ally with a broad reach in television and internet distribution as the company looks to expand. Liberty Global has customers in 30 countries, mostly in Europe and Latin America. As part of the deal, Liberty Global Chief Programming Officer Bruce Mann will join the STX board of directors.

“Having one of the world’s biggest content distributors incentivized in STX’s continued success is gratifying confirmation of our brand and business strategy,” Robert Simonds, STX chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.

Malone’s companies are known for investing in a wide range of smaller, independent media assets that he describes as “free radicals.” Malone, whose holdings have included Discovery Communications and Sirius XM Radio, started investing in “Hunger Games” studio Lionsgate in 2015. That eventually led to the sale of cable network Starz, in which Malone held a big stake, to Lionsgate last year.

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The latest Liberty deal comes as STX, launched in 2014 by Simonds, is planning an initial public offering in Hong Kong. In September, people familiar with the matter said the company is looking to raise $500 million and be listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange early next year.

STX’s R-rated comedy “Bad Moms” was a surprise summer hit in 2016 that led to the recent sequel “A Bad Moms Christmas,” which has grossed $83 million at the global box office so far. However, several other STX films, such as “Free State of Jones” and “The Space Between Us,” flopped. The studio’s next movie is the Aaron Sorkin drama “Molly’s Game,” set for a Christmas Day release.

ryan.faughnder@latimes.com

Twitter: @rfaughnder


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