Debt Market Turmoil Thwarts Diller

FF_diller_1.jpgTiming is everything, and the kindness of the lenders has cooled considerably. IAC chief Barry Diller, who controls 27 percent of the common-stock of Expedia, the largest online travel agency in the world, was seeking to extend his control over the company until he ran into the debt market crisis. Diller announced in June his share-repurchase plan to borrow $3.5 billion to buy back 42 percent of its stock. From the WSJ:

“Though he’s keeping quiet, all of this looks like a drag for Mr. Diller, who also controls IAC/InterActiveCorp, a Web conglomerate. (IAC and Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, have announced they’ll launch a joint-venture personal-finance site.) By not selling any of his 27 percent of Expedia’s common stock in the buyback, he would’ve cemented his control over the company and been left with a 52 percent stake. That’s what made the deal look like an LBO in sheep’s clothing.”

Last Monday the stock price of Expedia was down 9.1 percent, “the steepest in 14 months,” noted Bloomberg. At press time, however, in advance of the Thursday, August 2 earnings call, Expedia share prices were up two percent.

— Ron Mwangaguhunga