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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Viacom Favored in Studio Bid

PHILADELPHIA -- As a Monday midnight deadline for offers on Paramount Communications neared, Viacom appeared to have the edge on QVC Network to win a six-month bidding war for the U.S. media giant.

QVC announced said Sunday it would do nothing to sweeten its bid for Paramount, leaving an offer on the table that is expected to fall short of one made by Viacom. Paramount's directors have set a 12 P.M. New York time deadline for changes to the bids.

But QVC Chairman Barry Diller said he was not throwing in the towel in the five month, $10 billion battle for Paramount. "I'm not conceding anything at this stage. I absolutely believe we have the best bid," he said in an interview Sunday.

Both firms have sought Paramount in an attempt to become a leader on the emerging interactive information superhighway, using Paramount's vast entertainment holdings to create multimedia programming.

QVC has offered $104 per share for 50.1 percent of Paramount stock, while Viacom has countered with $107 per share. The balance of the offers would be made up of securities.

Diller said he was encouraging Paramount shareholders to make their final decisions Monday, contrary to speculation he wanted shareholders to refrain from choosing so the bidding war could be extended and QVC could make a new bid.

"We think they should tender to us," he said.

But Diller acknowledged difficulties the company faced in winning the votes of takeover-stock specialists, or arbitragers, who hold an estimated 30 percent to 50 percent of Paramount's stock.

"We know that the short-term community is against us, but whoever heard of a short-term community that was ever right in the long-run," he said.In its statement, QVC said it had enough money to increase its bid but has decided not do so.

Diller said QVC was not in discussions with allies regarding purchases of QVC shares to support the value of the stock portion of its bid.

There had been widespread speculation last week that comments by Diller to investors indicated support by allies was in the offing.

Paramount's holdings range from a Hollywood studio to New York publishing interests and the New York Knicks basketball and Rangers hockey teams.