Barry Diller Steps Down as IAC CEO

5:34 AM PST 12/02/2010 by Georg Szalai

The firm names Match.com's Greg Blatt new CEO, while Diller will focus on the chairman role.

NEW YORK – Barry Diller stepped down as CEO of IAC on Thursday morning.

His company unveiled a deal with John Malone’s Liberty Media that will see the latter exchange its entire stake in the online company for $220 million in cash, as well as the Evite and Gifts.com businesses.

IAC also said that Diller will focus on the role of chairman and senior executive at the company, with Match.com CEO Greg Blatt taking over as CEO. Diller said IAC needs "a full time aggressive and aspirational” CEO, and Blatt can provide leadership to ensure the company can "grow and thrive many years into the future." Diller also highlighted his continued commitment to IAC by saying that he is "not going anywhere."

After the Liberty deal, Diller owns about 34% of IAC, the largest individual stake in the firm. He has the right to expand it to 41% over the next nine months.

The two media moguls in a statement discussed their relationship. They had a falling out in a 2008 court case over how Diller used Malone's voting rights in IAC. Liberty's stake in the firm had included 60 percent of voting rights, which had been represented by Diller. Recently, Diller stepped down as chairman of Live Nation, with Malone taking over that role after tensions on the board, as first exposed by The Hollywood Reporter.

“These last 17 years of my association with John Malone and Liberty Media have been a great, and occasionally, wild ride,” Diller said. "While I'll continue my association with Dr. Malone in Expedia, and as significant shareholders of the multiple spun-off companies, Liberty's exit from IAC is a turning point, and I want to state my thanks and gratitude to Dr. Malone for his support and encouragement throughout (with one brief period of mutual discontent which we both believe was an aberration). This has been a most productive partnership and I'm glad it will continue in other venues."

Malone said the long Diller relationship “has been very beneficial in creating value for our shareholders, and this transaction represents an efficient exit for Liberty from our IAC stake.”

The online businesses Liberty is getting from IAC will become part of its Liberty Interactive arm. In classic Malone fashion, the deal is structured to be tax-free.

In their release, the companies pointed out that "Liberty and Barry Diller/IAC (and its predecessor entities) have been engaged since 1993 when Mr. Diller joined Silver King Communications." Revenue of $46 million that year grew to more than $10 billion now, they said.

 

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