Diller Reverses Stock Purchase Plans After Investors Revolt

07 June 2002

Barry Diller, ceo of USA Interactive, is not famed as one of nature’s great listeners.

But he harkened to the reverberating crash of USAi stock as investors made plain their feelings about Diller’s plan to spend $4.5 billion (€4.77bn; £3.09bn) of their cash on acquiring the shares it didn’t already own in three of its subsidiary e-units: travel site Expedia, event ticketing specialist Ticketmaster and Hotels.com [WAMN: 05-Jun-02].

Nor were the markets thrilled at the 7.5% premium on offer, perceiving this as over-generous. After three days of Wall Street guerrilla warfare, USAi called truce and announced it would suspend the stock purchase plan indefinitely.

Commented Diller: “Our shareholders said ‘Why are you taking an undervalued stock and overpaying for the stubs of these public companies which are overvalued? Meanwhile, the stubs said ‘How can you insult us with such a low offer?’ Both statements can't be true.”

But Diller's determination was evident. He would not increase USAi’s bid; nor would he bury the plan. ”This is eventually going to happen,” he said. “It could take us two months or two years. Our time clock has no end date.”

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff