UPDATE, 1:40 PM: It doesn’t seem to matter that Paula Deen’s New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up is Amazon’s best-selling book ahead of its scheduled publication in October. Random House’s Ballantine Books says today that it’s cancelling its plans for the cookbook, Publishers Weekly reports. Deen jumped to Ballantine from Simon & Schuster last year.
PREVIOUS, 11:40: Now J.C. Penney is leaving the Paula Deen business, the Dallas Morning News reports. The paper says that the chain sells Deen-branded cookware and carries a broader array of her merchandise in hundreds of its smaller stores.
PREVIOUS, 8:15 AM: Sears Holdings, which owns Sears and Kmart, says that it will “phase out” all of its Paula Deen merchandise and “will continue to evaluate the situation.” Walgreens also says that it’s phasing out Deen-branded goods which include mixes, seasonings and butter.
PREVIOUS, THURSDAY PM: QVC CEO Mike George says in a blog post that “for now” Paula Deen “won’t be appearing on any upcoming broadcasts and we will phase out her product assortment on our online sales channels over the next few months.” The site offers a Deen-branded line of cookware. The shopping channel chief adds that “People deserve second chances. And we always strive to do the right thing.” Following his note, Deen writes one of her own expressing appreciation for “the caring way that QVC has interacted with me over the past week.” She also says that she has “some important things to work on right now, both personally and professionally” and agreed that “it’s best for me to step back from QVC and focus on setting things right.” Deen says that she is “truly sorry and assure you I will work hard to earn your forgiveness.”
PREVIOUS, THURSDAY AM: Target says it will “phase out” the Paula Deen cookware and merchandise in its stores and online. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical manufacturer Novo Nordisk, which had teamed with the celebrity chef to promote Victoza — a drug for diabetics — says that it and Deen “have mutually agreed to suspend our patient education activities for now, while she takes time to focus her attention where it is needed.” The company had initially said that it would stand by Deen. Read More »
Liberty Interactive’s QVC is expanding into China. Outside the US, the video and e-commerce retailer already has international operations in the UK, Germany, Japan and Italy. Now, via a joint venture with China’s government-owned China National Radio, it will bring its beauty, fashion, jewelry and home products to a potential 35 million homes. The partners will together operate multimedia retail business CNR Home Shopping Co Ltd through the CNR Mall TV shopping channel and its e-commerce website. To be headquartered in Beijing, the joint venture is subject to regulatory approval. A full press release follows: Read More »
It’s “more likely than not” that new online video streaming providers such as Amazon will offer some programming on a premium tier — a contrast with Netflix’s single-price package – Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei said this morning at the Goldman Sachs Communicopia conference. He broadly hinted that his company’s desire to charge extra for Starz was a big reason why the premium channel recently ended negotiations to extend its carriage deal with Netflix. The current arrangement, he says, is “inconsistent” with the way consumers receive Starz on pay TV.
More broadly, Maffei says that Liberty is on track to split off its Liberty Capital and Liberty Starz tracking stocks by tomorrow now that it has beat back a court challenge by bondholders. The deal transfers some assets to the spun-off companies, violating some bond agreements. But the Delaware Supreme Court yesterday upheld a lower court decision that said the split-off is OK because it isn’t part of what it called an “overall scheme” to hurt bondholders. That likely won’t change the overall strategy for the company that’s controlled by the famously tax-averse former cable titan John Malone — and that some analysts say is little more than a portfolio of stock holdings. “Finding things to buy at attractive prices is the biggest chalenge we have today,” Maffei says. Read More »
In May, John Malone’s Liberty offered to buy all of Barnes & Noble for $1B. But the offer stalled and the book retailer said Thursday that the takeover talks had been ditched in light of the $204M investment agreement. Under the terms of the deal, Liberty Media bought preferred stock convertible into about 12 million Barnes & Noble shares at $17 apiece, giving it about a 17% stake in the company. The preferred shares will pay an annual dividend of 7.75%. Liberty will also get two seats on the company’s board of directors, which is being expanded to 11 members. It has nominated Greg Maffei, its president and CEO, and Mark Carleton, a senior vice president, to take the seats.
Barnes & Noble put itself up for sale last year in response to pressure from billionaire shareholder Ron Burkle, but the company didn’t strike a deal. Burkle, who has since stepped back and cut his stake, said Thursday in a statement that he had “grave concerns about the pricing and process.” Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble has continued to struggle along with other traditional book sellers — longtime rival Borders Group recently went out of business — facing tough competition from online retailers like Amazon.com and discounters like Wal-Mart. Leonard Riggio, chairman of Barnes & Noble, said the capital injection from Liberty will go toward expanding the company’s digital business.
Maffei said Liberty Media is … Read More »
The odd collection of stocks controlled by John Malone’s Liberty Media are enjoying a nice pop today after the company reported generally upbeat 2Q data. Shares of Liberty Starz are up 5.2% at mid-day. The company says that Starz ended the quarter with 19M subscribers — its highest ever and up 200,000 from March. But Encore was down by 200,000 to 32.9M. The company doesn’t mind: It reported $403M in revenue, up 5% vs the same period last year and beating the $396.1 that analysts expected. The company says it gained $8M from higher prices for its channels, $6M from the subscriber growth, and $3M from sales of home video and licensing rights to its original productions. Meanwhile, shares of Liberty Interactive — which includes QVC — are up 7.8% at mid-day after the company reported a 9% revenue increase to $2.2B, on target with expectations. QVC was up 8% to $1.9B. Sales of accessories, apparel, and home goods in the U.S. were up but jewelry was down. Although the number of transactions fell 4% to 25.7M, that was outweighed by an increase in the average value of each sale to $52.02 from $48.10. QVC plans broadcasts from the LA Live complex that will enable it to “provide a localized look and feel for our West Coast audience during their prime television viewing hours,” says QVC chief Mike George. Elsewhere in Malone-land, Liberty Capital shares are up 4.6% and Liberty Global’s … Read More »
I’ve just heard that CAA is signing QVC as a client. That’s after WME already signed HSN. So add home shopping to what already is the toy warfront when CAA signed Mattel. But after WME signed Hasbro.