The FCC has approved the $1.12 billion purchase of Alaska’s GCI by John Malone’s Liberty Interactive. The FCC clearance removes the last major regulatory hurdle for the deal, which the Justice Department already signed off on in June.
In deciding to approve Liberty’s latest acquisition, the FCC overrode the objections of local telecom competitors Alaska Communications and Quintillion Networks.
“We are not persuaded by petitioners’ claims that the proposed transaction will make GCI more capable of and more inclined to engage in anti-competitive behavior in Alaska,” the FCC order said. “Because GCI and the companies that will become affiliated with GCI after the transaction do not compete to provide service in any geographic areas that overlap, there are no horizontal competitive effects that would arise from the transaction that would enable GCI Liberty to control access to more facilities in a given area than it does currently.”
GCI touts around 108,000 cable customers in Alaska and also operates the state’s largest wireless service.
Upon final closure of the deal, Liberty Interactive will be renamed QVC Corp. GCI will be held by the Liberty Ventures Group side of the business, which also houses Liberty Broadband, Charter Communications and LendingTree Inc., among other companies.
Liberty Ventures will then be split off from the combined company in a new company called GCI Liberty. Liberty Interactive will control 77% of this company, as well as an 84% voting interest.
Liberty Interactive was split off from Liberty Media in 2013. It primarily controls interests in companies that are involved in video and digital commerce industries.
“GCI is the largest communications provider in Alaska, generates solid cash flow with upside potential and is a strong fit with the largest businesses in Liberty Ventures,” said Greg Maffei, Liberty Interactive president and CEO, in a statement shortly after the deal was announced in April. “This transaction will ultimately create a standalone Liberty Ventures, reducing the tracking stock discount and enabling an asset-backed QVC Group.”