IAC's Diller buys out Malone for $220M, assets
By CLAIRE ATKINSON
Last Updated: 3:50 AM, December 3, 2010
Posted: 12:07 AM, December 3, 2010
Print Call it a media-mogul divorce.
Barry Diller, the boss of IAC/InterActive Corp., and Liberty Media's John Malone are ending their long partnership and divvying up their assets -- and it looks Diller is getting the house.
In the breakup announced yesterday, Diller walked away with majority control of IAC, a Web conglomerate that houses dating service Match.com and search engine Ask.com, in exchange for a some relatively painless concessions.
Malone agreed to give up 12.8 million IAC shares and his 60 percent voting stake in the company. In exchange, Diller's IAC will hand over $220 million in cash and two Web properties, Evite and Gifts.com.
Splitsville: Media moduls Barry Diller (pictured) and John Malone are doing deals to go their seperate ways, with Diller stepping down as CEO of IAC Interactive Corp. Diller will also step down as IAC's CEO, although he will remain chairman with the opportunity to increase his stake. Match.com chief Greg Blatt will assume the CEO title at IAC.
In a statement, Diller described Liberty's exit from IAC as a "turning point." The two have had shared corporate interests for the past 17 years and -- with the exception of Expedia and a few other assets no longer part of IAC -- their interests are now separate.
In referencing a 2008 falling out with Malone over control of some assets that were spun out, Diller said that the two had had a successful partnership but for "one brief period of mutual discontent which we both believe was an aberration."
Oppenheimer & Co. Internet analyst Jason Helfstein said the deal is positive for Diller, in particular when considering Malone's reputation as a shrewd adversary.
"There are very few individuals on the planet who can say they walked away with a good deal from Liberty Media," Helfstein said.
Wall Street sent IAC's stock up 2 percent to close at $29.35.
Under the deal, Diller exchanged 4.3 million IAC shares for 4.3 million super-voting Class B shares of IAC held by Liberty. The deal gives Diller 34 percent of IAC and the chance to boost his stake to 41 percent if he exercises his right to swap 1.5 million common shares for more Class B stock.
The deal is also an indication of Malone's plans for Liberty Interactive Group, which will house Evite and Gifts.com along with Liberty Media's interests in digital properties such as Expedia and QVC. Despite having a separately traded stock with the ticker "LINTA," the business is not a separate company -- yet.
"This is definitely a positive for Malone," said one source. "He wants to move on and he's cleaning up to spin out LINTA."
Diller's decision to relinquish the CEO role could also free him to seek out content assets -- something he wasn't able to do within the confines of IAC. "There just isn't a way to spend a billion dollars on content, and do it in any meaningful way in this company," Oppenheimer's Helfstein said. [email protected]
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