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Business Observer Thursday, Jul. 6, 2017 4 years ago

Big gets bigger: QVC buys HSN in $2.1B deal

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Region is on the verge of losing a major headquarters company.

ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa region will be losing a landmark headquarters company with the pending sale of HSN to its No. 1 rival, QVC, in a blockbuster deal announced before the markets opened today.

The parent company of QVC, Englewood, Colo.-based Liberty Interactive, says it has entered into an agreement to buy St. Petersburg-based HSN in an all-stock transaction worth about $2.1 billion. Liberty Interactive had a 38% stake in HSN; if and when shareholders and regulators approve the deal, it will give Liberty Interactive 100% ownership of HSN.

The deal creates a TV shopping giant, with a combined 55,000 hours of video content between the two companies.

“We're thrilled to welcome the HSNi team to our company. HSNi founded the industry forty years ago and helped it grow with exciting initiatives like Shop By Remote and media integrations with leading content producers. By creating the leader in discovery-based shopping, we will enhance the customer experience, accelerate innovation, leverage our resources and talents to further strengthen our brands, and redeploy savings for innovation and growth,” says QVC President and CEO Mike George in a statement. “As the prominent global video commerce retailer and North America's third largest mobile and ecommerce retailer, the combined company will be well-positioned to help shape the next generation of retailing.”

“We are excited to announce the acquisition of HSNi,” adds Liberty Interactive President and CEO said Greg Maffei in the release. “The addition of HSN will enhance QVC's position as the leading global video ecommerce retailer.”

The initial version of HSN was founded as a local cable channel in Pinellas County. By 1985 it had moved toward a then new shopping-on-TV model, where hosts hawked products and services all day and night. The channel was renamed the Home Shopping Network in 1985. QVC was founded in 1986.

HSN had $3.5 billion in revenue in 2016, and has some 3,000 employees in its St. Petersburg headquarters, in the Gateway office complex just off Interstate 275. The company's revenues, and share price, had dipped in recent quarters, and it also lost its longtime CEO Mindy Grossman earlier this year, when she left to become CEO of Weight Watchers. Grossman was named CEO in 2006, and she helped take the company public in 2008. She then oversaw its multimillion-dollar expansion into online and ecommerce outlets.

Under the terms of the deal, HSN shareholders will receive 1.65 shares of QVC stock for each HSN share. That's a 29% premium, or $9.06 share, over HSN's July 5 closing price of $40.36 a share.

The acquisition of HSNi could be completed by the fourth quarter.

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