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Home Shopping swaps auditors // Marketer seeks larger operation

ST. PETERSBURG - Home Shopping Network Inc. said it replaced its auditor, Grant Thornton in Tampa, with DeLoitte and Touche in St. Petersburg. Home Shopping said it sought a larger local operation, and appreciated DeLoitte and Touche's specializations in retail and communications, said Les R. Wandler, chief financial officer and treasurer.

Wandler said Home Shopping shopped for many months for a new accountant, and received proposals from several firms. Home Shopping is a big catch for any local accountant. The company is the third-biggest publicly held company based in the Tampa Bay area.

"No disagreements led to the change," which took effect Feb. 1, said Home Shopping executive vice president and general counsel Nando DiFilippo Jr.

Officials at Grant Thornton did not return telephone calls to comment Monday. Grant Thornton has been the young company's auditor for at least three years.

The Big Eight firms DeLoitte, Haskins & Sells and Touche Ross merged last December to form DeLoitte and Touche.

On Dec. 28, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing, Home Shopping's board recommended retaining DeLoitte and Touche for advice "on certain accounting matters related to a possible transaction under consideration by Home Shopping.

But before any opinion was rendered, the filing said, Home Shopping terminated consideration of the transaction.

Wandler would not specify the nature of the transaction, only saying, "We routinely review lots of transactions, both internal and external."

In the SEC filing, Home Shopping notes that Grant Thornton had not offered any adverse opinion or disclaimer of opinion on the company's books regarding uncertainty, audit scope or accounting principles.

During the last two fiscal years ended Aug. 31, Home Shopping said, there were no disagreements which, if not resolved, would have caused the accounting firm to make reference to the subject matter in any financial report.

A letter from Grant Thornton to the SEC says the firm agrees with the statements in Home Shopping's filing.