THE THIRD MAN: JOHN MALONE

JOHN MALONE HATES IT THAT SOME PEOPLE THINK OF HIM AS A BOARDROOM bandit. The country's most powerful cable operator--whose 21% stake in Turner Broadcasting gave him potential veto power over last week's big merger--has been variously described as Darth Vader, Andrew Carnegie and Genghis Khan. Such comparisons, says Malone, have him all wrong. He's shocked, shocked by reports that he held up the merger--first by insisting that Time Warner do away with its "poison pill" takeover defense, then by demanding seats on the board--until he had squeezed all the juice he could from the deal. "The speculation is laughable," he...

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