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Mr. Shop At Home Strikes Again


In Business This Week: HEADLINER: BARRY DILLER

MR. SHOP-AT-HOME STRIKES AGAIN

Tired of lounging on the couch, ordering kaftans from the Home Shopping Network? How about getting some theater tickets? Either way, Barry Diller's got you covered. On May 20, the HSN chairman announced a deal to buy Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen's 47.5% stake in Ticketmaster, the nation's largest ticket outlet. Together, Home Shopping and Ticketmaster will hawk everything from Spice Girls tickets to cubic zirconia jewelry.

The estimated $210 million price--which Allen is taking in the form of HSN shares--also gets Diller a network of 2,500 retail outlets, 16 nationwide phone call centers, and a fledgling online ticketing service. Diller figures he can scare up new business with companies that want to lease their phone operations. The combined company hopes to dominate the $60 billion market for fulfilling direct-mail orders.

Sources say Diller broached the deal to get a stronger foothold in the shop-at-home business. He's expected to buy another 2.5% of Ticketmaster's stock.By Ronald Grover EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top

HOUSEHOLD ON A CREDIT SPREE

JUST LIKE ITS WORKING-CLASS customers, Household International has a growing appetite for credit. On May 21, the consumer-finance and credit-card giant said it would buy Transamerica's $3.3 billion-asset, 420-branch consumer-finance operation for $1.1 billion in cash. The move will put Household in some 970 offices around the country, and boost its assets to $50 billion. It will also add $3 billion in home-equity and mortgage loans to Household's existing portfolio. Despite rising charge-offs for consumer debts, Household's have been relatively small. Transamerica lost some $45 million in 1996 but has been cleaning up its loan portfolios, and Household is not taking on any delinquencies.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top

HARTE-HANKS STOPS THE PRESSES

AFTER NEARLY 75 YEARS IN the Texas newspaper business, San Antonio-based Harte-Hanks Communications is cutting ties to the past. On May 19, the company agreed to sell its newspaper operations and San Antonio's KENS-TV to E.W. Scripps for as much as $775 million. The future? Direct marketing. It accounted for 50% of Harte-Hanks's $666 million in revenue last year, while its free weekly advertising publications generated 28%. Says CEO Larry Franklin: "It made sense for us to focus all of our attention on what has become our core business."EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top

WELLS FARGO'S CHIEF: HAPPY TRAILS

WILLIAM ZUENDT IS CATCHING the stage coach out of town. On May 21, the president of Wells Fargo announced he will retire after 24 years with the bank. Zuendt's exit comes at a tough time for Wells. Stock and earnings have been sagging due to continuing problems related to its acquisition of First Interstate, ranging from customer defections to technical snafus. Zuendt, who will be replaced by four vice-chairmen, says it was simply time for him to move on: "You never want to do everything 100%, because you never finish." He figures Wells is 80% through the integration with First Interstate.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top


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