Home shop merger doubtful

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Home Shopping Network chief executive officer Gerald Hogan said Wednesday that antitrust concerns would probably rule out a possible merger with rival QVC Network.

“There is great concern about regulatory issues and antitrust issues,” Hogan said. “I would doubt that anything more would happen.” Last week, Tele-Communications Inc. chairman John Malone also told industry analysts a merger between Home Shopping and QVC was unlikely. TCI owns a controlling stake in Liberty Media, Home Shopping’s largest shareholder.

In July, QVC said it planned to acquire Home Shopping in a stock swap valued at about $ 1.1 billion. But QVC dropped the plan after it went after Paramount Communications in a bidding war Viacom eventually won.

Wall Street is rife with speculation about which interactive media company cash-rich QVC might pursue next.

Home Shopping’s link with TCI doesn’t rule out other alliances, Hogan said.

Hogan also said Home Shopping was off to a good start this year but declined to comment specifically about the first quarter, which some industry analysts have estimated will be about break-even in earnings per share.

The St. Petersburg-based company’s revenues have been flat for the past three years at about $ 1 billion. Home Shopping ended 1993 with a fourth-quarter loss after taking a $ 13 million charge to settle shareholder lawsuits.

Hogan, who took over management of Home Shopping about one year ago, said the company was now focused on its core business and was no longer “distracted” by shareholder lawsuits and heavy tech investments.

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