Diller buys Malone out of IAC stake

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The Independent Online

Barry Diller, the home-shopping TV mogul, and the cable TV pioneer John Malone have parted ways in the media group IAC/InterActive Corp. Mr Malone's Liberty Media is selling its controlling stake in the internet business, in return for $220m (£141m) and two web businesses, Evite and Gifts.com.

Mr Diller, the man who created Fox Broadcasting, is meanwhile handing over the reins as chief executive at IAC to Greg Blatt, the chief executive of IAC's dating website Match.com.

The changes leave Mr Diller as chairman of IAC and its largest shareholder, with more than a third of the voting shares. He also has the option of increasing his stake in the business to 41 per cent over the next nine months.

The transaction ends a 17-year business engagement between Mssrs Malone and Diller that began when Mr Diller joined Silver King Communications. Both men remain on the boards of several companies that were spun off from IAC in 2008, including Ticketmaster, now part of Live Nation Entertainment.

While Mr Diller has always said he remains good friends with Mr Malone, there was more evidence of the tensions that can arise in business when Mr Diller suddenly stepped down in October as chairman of Live Nation and was replaced on an interim basis by Mr Malone. The two businessmen also fell out over a 2008 court battle about Mr Diller's use of Liberty's voting rights, in a case that was later settled.

"These past 17 years of my association with John Malone and Liberty Media have been a great, and occasionally wild, ride," Mr Diller said yesterday. "I want to state my thanks and gratitude to 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."