Liberty Media to split off Braves, create new stock

Credit: Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com

Credit: Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com

The Braves are now a separate publicly traded company.

Owner Liberty Media announced that its board of directors has authorized management to pursue a split-off of the Braves and The Battery Atlanta into a new tracking stock. It will be known as Atlanta Braves Holdings. The move is pending approval from the current Braves Group holding and MLB.

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“We plan to split off the Atlanta Braves into an asset-backed stock to better highlight its strong value,” Liberty Media President and CEO Greg Maffei said in a statement Thursday.

Atlanta Braves Holdings would hold all of the businesses, assets and liabilities currently attributed to the Braves Group, which is the direct or indirect owner and operator of the Braves, certain assets and liabilities associated with the Braves’ stadium, Truist Park, and mixed-use development project, The Battery Atlanta, and corporate cash. In connection with the split-off, Liberty Media would redeem each outstanding share of its Series A, Series B and Series C Liberty Braves common stock for one share of the corresponding series of common stock of Atlanta Braves Holdings. As a result of the split-off, Liberty Media and Atlanta Braves Holdings would be separate publicly traded companies.

In a split-off, the parent company offers shareholders the option to keep their current shares or exchange them for shares of the divesting company.

The move is expected to increase the value of the Braves. As of Thursday morning, following the announcement, Liberty Media stock was up about 10% to nearly $34 a share.

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Maffei has talked about the real possibility of a split-off as far back as 2016, but said several times in the following years that it wasn’t on the horizon. Thursday’s move toward a split-off could facilitate the possible eventual sale of the Braves by eliminating some complicated tax issues.

“First of all, just starting with the structure we have, while (the team) sits in a (tracking stock), really it would be very unattractive from a tax perspective (to sell),” Maffei said at last year’s Liberty Media Investor Day. “Unlikely to do that. Could we, somewhere down the road, do different things to create optionality around that asset? Surely.”

Earlier this month, Liberty Media investor Breach Inlet Capital sent a letter, a second and public notice, in which it outlined the reasons Liberty Braves stock is undervalued and should be spun off to maximize shareholder value.

Braves President and CEO Derek Schiller spoke in person at the Investor Day.

“From our perspective, from the Braves perspective, it’s business as usual,” Schiller said of the transaction. “Our goal every year is going to be try to win a World Series, operate the best sports and entertainment business possible. I think we have shown that, and I think we are going to continue to show that.”