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Diller regroups

PHILADELPHIA — QVC Networks Inc., rebounding quickly from its defeat in the battle for Paramount Communications Inc., Thursday announced a name change and plans to expand into new areas of electronic retailing.

The move showed that QVC chairman Barry Diller continues to press an ambitious agenda despite his bruising loss in the Paramount battle, analysts said.

Viacom’s victory

On Tuesday, rival bidder Viacom Inc. declared victory in the five-month takeover war for Paramount. Viacom bid a combination of cash and stock valued at $ 9.5 billion to $ 10 billion.

QVC’s final bid, also cash and stock, was valued at a minimum of $ 8.9 bil and as much as $ 10 bil.

QVC, renamed QVC Inc., said a new “QVC Interactive” unit would develop interactive services, including an electronic “on-line” shopping service for launch in early 1995.

“The QVC electronic retailing business continues to move on and there are plenty of creative opportunities for Diller at QVC with different businesses, and this reorganization is an indication of that,” PaineWebber analyst Craig Bibb said.

Said Larry Haverty of State Street Research in Boston: “This is what Barry does. He produces television. He understands the television box. It’s good they’re going to fill the 500 channels with something.”

QDirect

QVC said it set up a division, QDirect, to produce direct-response television commercials and half-hour-long infomercials.

It said it aimed to expand existing international joint ventures in Mexico and Britain throughout Latin America and Europe.

In addition, QVC’s founding president, Michael Boyd, announced his retirement and will not be replaced. QVC named Douglas Briggs to a new position of president-electronic retailing, QVC’s main operating unit.

“Douglas Briggs has been the key force in the development of QVC,” Diller said in a statement. “His goal is to ‘own’ the concept of TV shopping in every form throughout the world, and the company will support his efforts completely.”

Analysts said the new operations have broad potential, although not necessarily immediately.

More interactive biz

Bibb said an entry into the growing computer on-line industry will offer QVC a more truly interactive business than its current television service, in which a parade of products is presented to the viewer who then orders by phone.

“To position themselves for the electronic highway, they needed to be on-line , and they’re going there,” Bibb said.

Bibb said the infomercial business will be an easy way to try out new products, and the international operations will penetrate “vast, untapped markets.”

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