Gary Howard, the Tele-Communications Inc. executive who
took charge of United Video Satellite Group Inc. in June, added the titles of president
and CEO of TCI Ventures Group last week.
Howard, 46, will remain chairman and CEO at UVSG, even as
he assumes command of TCI Ventures, which is a collection of TCI's noncable and
international assets, including TCI's controlling stake in UVSG. Other TCI Ventures
assets include TCI's stakes in Sprint PCS, Tele-Communications International Inc.
(TINTA), Teleport Communications Group and At Home Corp.
Howard is also CEO of TCI Satellite Entertainment Inc.
(TSAT), the publicly held, former TCI unit that holds the MSO's former stake in
PrimeStar Partners L.P. TSAT is due to be rolled up into a new company, PrimeStar Inc.,
holding all PrimeStar assets. Howard will not have an executive role at PrimeStar once the
roll-up is completed, which is scheduled to occur sometime in the first quarter of 1998.
In naming Howard, TCI president and chief operating officer
Leo J. Hindery Jr. said in a statement that Howard's diverse experience at TCI will
help in overseeing TCI Ventures' investment in and development of new
telecommunications products and services. Howard could not be reached for comment.
TCI Ventures has not had a president since Brendan Clouston
resigned in October. TCI executive vice president Larry Romrell has been managing
day-to-day operations since then, and he will continue to be involved in strategic
planning at TCI Ventures, TCI spokeswoman LaRae Marsik said.
Before taking the job at TSAT, Howard was senior vice
president of mergers and acquisitions at TCI's cable unit. That experience could come
in handy, too, as TCI is apparently discussing various transactions involving At Home and
TCG. Many analysts believe that those assets will play a role in TCI's expected
alliance with AT&T Corp.
UVSG also has an appealing mix of assets, according to
Media Group Research analyst Mark Riely. In addition to Prevue Networks Inc. and UVTV --
which distributes superstations WGN, WPIX and KTLA -- UVSG distributes programming to
C-band satellite-dish users.
Riely said he expects to see UVSG continue to build value
at Prevue; to sell off a computer-systems-integration business and a paging-services unit;
and to possibly move to convert WGN into a basic-cable network, a la TBS Superstation, at
some point. UVSG's share price has risen to about $27 from around $20 when Howard
took over, and Riely looks for it to rise to about $30 per share next year.
Howard's role at TCI Ventures could help UVSG because
he will be able to look for ways for UVSG to take part in TCI Ventures deals, Riely said.
And UVSG shouldn't suffer because its chief operating officer, Peter C. Boylan III,
has been managing much of its day-to-day operations anyway, he added.