NBC, GE Buy Stake in ValueVision

Aiming to get into the e-tail arena, NBC
Wednesday teamed with GE Equity to purchase a $56 million stake in ValueVision
International Inc.

NBC and GE Equity jointly agreed to acquire 19.9
percent of ValueVision preferred stock and common stock purchase warrants.
NBC and GE Equity to receive one seat on ValueVision’s board. In addition, NBC and
GE Equity have the option to
increase their shared equity stake to 39.9 percent, subject to ValueVision
shareholder approval.

NBC will be responsible for all of ValueVision’s cable and affiliate
relations. ValueVision will
rely on NBC’s creative and technical initiatives for program development.
NBC will also assume a leadership role in redesigning ValueVision’s
Internet shopping site. The companies plan to rebrand ValueVision’s
television home-shopping
network with an Internet portal during the year.

The companies contend the transaction marks the first time that a broadcast
network has taken a significant equity stake in a television home-shopping
network with the potential for a
significant electronic commerce partnership through interactive cable boxes
and Internet portals.
ValueVision, an electronic and print media direct marketing company,
operates the third largest television home-shopping network in the U.S.
NBC also holds an equity stake in online portal Snap!.

“Today’s partnership announcement positions ValueVision to become a
principal player in the evolving
convergence and development of electronic commerce.”said Gene McCaffrey,
ValueVision’s chairman, chief executive officer and president.

“The combination of the
strength and credibility of GE
and NBC, increased cable distribution, and innovative entertainment program
development position our
companies to lead in the area of electronic commerce,” he added.

“NBC has a proven
track record for growing distribution of cable networks with MSNBC and CNBC
— we hope to help
ValueVision strengthen its position in the cable television world,” said
Tom Rogers, president of NBC Cable and executive vice president, NBC.

“As the TV and PC converge, access to
electronic revenue streams like home shopping through cable and Internet
will become extremely valuable.
This partnership strategically positions NBC and ValueVision for this
future opportunity,” Rogers said.

News Around the Web