NEW YORK--After weeks of speculation over the future of QVC, the company's board on Wednesday accepted a sweetened offer of $46 a share from Comcast Corp. and Liberty Media.
The sale will likely end the short tenure of Barry Diller, who has been QVC's chairman for about a year and a half. Industry sources doubt Diller would want to work for Comcast and Liberty. Should he choose to leave, he'll cash out with over $100 million.
"It's a great deal for Comcast and Liberty and a lousy deal for QVC shareholders," said Craig Bibb, a securities analyst with Paine Webber. "But apparently there were no other bidders."
If Diller leaves, according to Bibb, "QVC will be the same."
"Barry brought a long term strategic direction to the company that QVC was in need of," he continued. "It is too early to decide whether Q2's programming will succeed." (Q2 is QVC's lifestyle channel launching this fall.) "The hard part of the equation was getting cable carriage and [Diller] did a bang-up job at that. The U.K. [joint venture] company will lose a lot of money for a long time because they don't have much [cable distribution], so Comcast and Liberty might shut it down."
Under Diller, QVC's stock has risen from the mid-20s to the upper 40s.
On Thursday, QVC's stock closed at 44 3/4, up 3/4; Liberty Media's stock closed at 23, up 1/4, and Comcast Corp. stock closed at 16, down 1/8. All the stocks are traded over-the-counter.

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