Hallmark May Greet Partner


Hallmark Cards Inc. and Crown Media Holdings Inc. are looking for a partner — an investor or a media company with strategic leverage — for the Hallmark Channel, sources said Friday.

The Wall Street Journal
reported Friday that Hallmark Cards, which owns 67 percent of Crown, has approached potential buyers or joint-venture partners about its stake in the company. Crown owns the domestic Hallmark Channel, which has 46.5 million subscribers, as well as several international versions. The company's owners reportedly value Crown at a hefty $1 billion.

News Corp. and Discovery Communications Inc. are among those who have been approached by Hallmark, several sources said. But though Crown "is being shopped around," the company is really focused on finding a strategic partner for its domestic channel, one source maintained.

As part of the proposed deal, according to the Journal,
Crown Media CEO David Evans — a veteran of News Corp. — wants to remain head of the company. In the Journal
story, Evans denied that Crown is for sale or that Hallmark wants out.

But in an early version of the Journal
story, after his denial, Evans was quoted as saying, "As a standalone, one-channel business, we realize the right strategic partner could be of great interest …We have had and are having those sorts of conversations."

In a later Journal
edition, that same quote is attributed "a person familiar with the matter," not Evans.

Last Friday, officials at Hallmark declined to comment. Evans and Crown officials couldn't be reached for comment. News Corp. declined to comment.

At Discovery Communications Inc., a spokesman said, "We're in constant conversations about a wide range of strategic partnerships and a ways to grow the asset value of Discovery, but we've had a long-term policy not to comment on potential transactions."