MediaFile

Barry Diller goes it alone, and he’s fine with that

bd.jpgCall it the new simplicity. IAC’s businesses are better off on their own in the market than trying to work with a strategic partner, according to chief mogul Barry Diller.
    
Recently empowered by a court decision that says he can do what he wants with IAC with little limitation from controlling shareholder Liberty Media, Diller said today a plan to spin off four major IAC units probably won’t involve any partners and that he was on track to complete the separation in August. 

Here’s his comments from a conference call to discuss quarterly earnings. We’re wondering how much of this may still be a negotiating position, or should we expect to see one big IAC, and four little IACs, trading on the Nasdaq before Thanksgiving: 
    

What we’re not discussing is the possibility of a so-called swap transaction with Liberty. While the potential for such a deal exists just by the nature of our relationship, I think it’s very unlikely that one will occur. 
 
Relative to private equity, we’ve had lots of discussions, we have lots of people knocking on the door and coming in and talking about different schemes and ideas. The truth is as we go through this, I think we’re not probably going to do any of them. I think that the best thing to do is simplicity. We may do one or some modified thing but I don’t think we’re going to do anything that would particularly engage (the) private equity world. 
    
The best thing is to get these companies spun out and to get them into the public markets, get their managements out there, so to speak, and taking care of their own businesses and talking to the investment community. I think that’s probably the better step forward for us at this point. 

For those watching at home, Liberty was mulling a swap for IAC’s HSN shopping channel, or maybe a smaller asset. Firms such as Quadrangle and Elevation Partners were also among the parties who have discussed taking a stake in another IAC unit.

(Photo: Reuters)

Malone, Diller and the story that ended the affair

maffei-sun-valley.jpgMedia titans John Malone and Barry Diller knew they had their fair share of disagreements over the years, but like many couples heading to divorce, they apparently needed someone else to tell them that.

Enter Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Vascellaro.

The media industry read with rapt interest her story in October that put in plain language how much tension had built up between the two over their partnership in IAC/InterActiveCorp. 

But as the two moguls duke it out in Delaware court this week, they keep invoking that story, day after day, as the moment that sent their relationship past the point of no return. 

Did Greg get between John and Barry?

malone-arrives.jpgJohn Malone is famous in the media industry for his complex deal-making skills that have confounded some of the best minds in business. But he seemed almost forlorn in Delaware court today when talking about the unraveling of his relationship with Barry Diller, the former television and film honcho who built up IAC/InterActiveCorp with his backing.About halfway through a rigorous cross examination by Marc Wolinsky, who was representing IAC, Malone’s responses gave us the impression that his lieutenant and CEO Greg Maffei had a hand in precipitating a difficult business dispute into all-out war. Here are some chapter headings from his direct testimony and cross-examination:The tension dates years back to Maffei’s role in Expedia’s sale to IAC. When Maffei was appointed CEO of Liberty Media in 2005, Malone said Diller branded it a “poor choice.”“I knew there was a history. I knew that Barry was complaining that there was no cooperation between Expedia and Hotels.com … he thought that was wrong. I’m not sure I was aware of any personality difference until much later.”By 2006, Maffei was making comments that questioned the solidity of Diller’s control over IAC, under a proxy agreement to vote Liberty shares. Barry had some feelings about that.“Mr Diller was very unhappy or upset that Mr Maffei would make these … claims or references, anything that would undermine his confidence that he had the voting power.”When Maffei and Liberty counsel suggested a way to weaken Diller’s proxy, Malone said he objected.“I told them that I regarded it as brain damage. (So what did you do when Maffei persisted in his argument?) I would assume that he has something in mind in terms of it being a viable legal argument, or because our lawyers are telling him they believe it’s a valuable and appropriate legal position.”By late 2007, Maffei took a more aggressive stance when it came to pushing Diller to compensate Liberty for the declining value of its IAC stake, Malone said.“I would say Mr Maffei believed it was in the interest of Liberty to try and separate our interests from IAC and Expedia. I think Mr Maffei can be pugilistic where these issues are concerned.”Because at the end of the day, Malone would be happy to make up with good ol’ Barry. Asked if he preferred to litigate their dispute in Colorado rather than Delaware, he said:“I didn’t want to have to sue Mr. Diller anywhere. I still hold him no ill-will and I still seek a win-win solution for our disputes. I don’t think any of us likes that we are having an open dispute after 13, 14 years of building value together.”Cue one Denver sunset please.(Photo: Reuters/John Randolph/ Liberty Media Corporation Chairman John Malone returns to Chancery court in Wilmington Delaware)

Diller, Malone: Battle of the moguls kick off

bulls.jpgIts a (media) heavyweight battle: IAC’s Barry Diller vs Liberty Media’s John Malone.Not since former Disney chief Michael Eisner and one-time Hollywood super agent Michael Ovitz squared off has the media industry seen as contentious a battle as the one we’re about to witness in Delaware on Monday as Diller and Malone fight in court over control.Long-time business partners are dueling over Diller’s move to break up the company in a plan that would eliminate IAC’s dual class share structure, which gives Malone’s Liberty some 62 percent of the company’s voting power. Under a longstanding agreement, Diller has been able to vote Liberty’s stake. Liberty now says IAC has breached that agreement by going against Liberty’s wishes.PaidContent posted a copy of Diller’s pre-battle message to troops.Eleventh-hour settlement hopes ahead of the trial have largely been dashed. Although there is still about a hour to go before the trial starts. Citing unnamed sources, NY Post says these talks are likely to continue through the week.Let the games begin.(Reuters)Keep an eye on:

    The hair-twirling, the fidgeting, the interjections. BusinessWeek columnist Sarah Lacy learns how not to do an interview with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, when the crowd at South by Southwest Interactive turns on her. (News.com) Top six U.S. cable operators aim to spend $150 million to create a jointly owned company to court advertisers on a national scale. (NYTimes) Facebook, en Francais. (Reuters) MySpace’s talks with music industry heats up, considers launching service without Universal Music Group. (FT)

(Photo: Reuters)