Liberty's Maffei Says AOL Access Deal Unlikely; "Neutral" On Barry Diller

Yahoo negotiations aside, it’s been guessed that AOL’s access business could wind up in the hands of major Time Warner shareholder Liberty Media. The thinking: It would benefit Liberty to swap out its (declining) share of Time Warner for the cash-generating access business.

But Liberty CEO Greg Maffei told FT’s Chrystia Freeland that although they’ve had talks, such a deal is unlikely, and that access will likely wind up with one of the existing access players (United Online or EarthLink). Translation: Whatever tax plans Greg and John Malone had in store for the transaction won’t pan out. This also has potential implications for the AOL/Yahoo deal, making it more likely that AOL will try to package the whole business together.

The whole video interview (can’t embed) with Freeland is a good view. Even if you don’t want to hear Maffei wax eloquent on financial engineering, the credit crisis and the regulatory environment, skip ahead to the 11:38 mark where they play a friendly game of “long/short”.

Maffei’s “shorts”: Newspapers, Tina Brown and Yahoo. Barry Diller, who Greg spent much of the last year attacking privately and publicly, gets a “neutral” rating.

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