On The Block

Pressure from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation may have prompted Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. (Nasdaq:GMST) to consider a possible sale. The global media, entertainment and technology company counts TV Guide and TVG Network among its holdings. According to a report by April Horace, an analyst with Janco Partners Inc., News Corp. owns 42 percent of Gemstar and controls four of nine board seats. For the first quarter of 2007, the company reported net income of $34.4 million, compared to $8.6 million from the same period in 2006, and Gemstar’s stock has been gaining momentum in recent weeks. Horace added that Gemstar is an appealing target because it carries no debt. UBS Investment Bank is serving as financial advisor to Gemstar, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is acting as legal advisor.

Henry Crown and Co., the Chicago-based investment firm, is looking to divest itself of Woodard LLC, a leader in the outdoor furniture industry. The Crown family has owned Woodard for 20 years, and the tight-lipped family has not released financial information on its portfolio company. According to a Woodard press release, the family has been retooling its portfolio of operating businesses, recently unloading the majority of its golf course and movie theater operations. Founded in 1865, Woodard, a CC Industries Inc. company, specializes in wrought iron, aluminum and wicker furniture that it sells under the Woodard, Woodard Landgrave and Woodard Lyon Shaw brands.

The switch to computer-based stock trading left specialist trading outfit LaBranche & Co. Inc. (NYSE:LAB) reeling, and the company may entertain selling part or all of itself or going private to remain competitive. The possible sale comes as LaBranche, which runs one of the largest equity specialist traders on the NYSE, has been “struggling to identify profitable ways to trade under the new market structure,” according to Michael Vinciquerra, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets. In a statement, LaBranche said it will post a second quarter loss due to a write-down of its specialist business. The company has hired investment bank Freeman and Co. and the law firm Weil, Gotshal and Manges as advisors.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and DLJ Merchant Banking Partners have taken steps toward unloading the Armonk, N.Y.-based Visant Corp. The buyout shops have hired Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse to advise on the possible sale of Visant, a marketing and publishing company that owns Jostens Inc., Neff Motivation Inc. and Arcade Marketing. Visant is comprised of three segments: its scholastic division that sells class rings and other graduation products; a yearbook outfit that produces and sells school yearbooks; and its marketing and publishing arm, which produces advertising and sample systems for fragrance and cosmetics makers. During the first quarter of 2007, Visant reported consolidated net sales of $255.9 million, an increase of 12.2 percent over $228 million in consolidated net sales during the same time period in 2006.