QVC STOCK PRICES FUELING RUMORS OF NEW BIDDERS
NEW YORK — Since Comcast Corp. broke up the QVC-CBS merger by bidding $2.2 million for the home shopping network, speculation has been intense about the entrance of other bidders.
Financial analysts say it has been fueled by the fact that QVC has been trading higher than Comcast’s $44-per-share offer. On Tuesday, QVC’s stock, traded on NASDAQ, closed at 45 9/10, down 1/16; Comcast, also on NASDAQ, closed at 16 1/8, down 1/4.
Two of the latest rumors concern John Malone, chairman of Tele-Communications Inc., who is said to be contemplating making a bid for QVC, and Barry Diller, QVC’s chairman, who’s rumored to be considering a management-led buyout.
Diller, TCI and Comcast are QVC’s largest shareholders, with 12.6 percent, 19 percent and 15.5 percent, respectively.
Spokesmen for Diller and Liberty Media declined comment. TCI owns its QVC stake through Liberty, its programming arm.
James Meyer, a securities analyst with Janney, Montgomery, Scott in Philadelphia, said antitrust issues could be a major impediment for TCI.
“One obvious thing that’s left is a management-led buyout,” Meyer said. “There are companies with stable, growing businesses with high cash flow that can service a lot of debt. QVC fits that description to a T.”
But Sharon Kalin, a Wall Street arbitrageur, said, “Management-led buyouts are not that easy to do; they’re expensive.”
And, said another analyst, if Diller pulled off a buyout, he probably wouldn’t have the necessary cash flow to acquire any other media property that caught his eye.