Diller to Malone: Why didn’t you call me?
That’s the lesson from today’s episode of the Barry Diller vs John Malone fight in Delaware court today.
Diller confirmed that his decision to pursue a reconfiguration of IAC/InterActiveCorp that has landed it in court with Liberty was swayed by an October article in the Wall Street Journal which quoted Malone as saying, among other things, that IAC shares might be trading at “a Barry discount.”
Malone himself said he knew the story could cause trouble when he took the stand on Monday:
“I thought, Barry’s not going to like this when he sees it. (Did you call Diller?) I should have but I did not. Because when I read it, it came across not the way I would have liked it to come across. In the end I did call. It was roughly two months later.”
“Oh yes this was hurtful. I expected John Malone to call to apologize. I thought he’d read this and say: ‘Oh my God, I would never do that. I would never be party to such a thing.'”
But John didn’t call:
“Much to my dismay, he did not call me from October 27 until December 20-something. That’s all I know.”
So Barry thought:
“They’re trying to prod me or they’re trying to manipulate me. It has to be some form of manipulation. … It pushed me further, that’s for sure, but it had been discussed previously.”
And when he did call?:
“It started out coolly … I was actually quite emotionless. It never varied from beginning to end from my point of view.”
About two-thirds of the way through the call, Diller informed Malone he would endorse a plan to spin off four of IAC’s businesses with a single class of shares, a move that would dilute Liberty’s super-voting control over the units as separate entities.
“(Malone) said: ‘We’ll have a messy, public … proxy fight’. I think I responded ‘I don’t care.’ Then I said ‘You’ve lost me John. I’ll do everything fair … I’m not going to do anything hostile or anything like that, but you’ve lost me.'”
“And he said: ‘So be it.'”
(Photos of Malone and Diller at Delaware court house from Reuters)