IAC (NSDQ: IACI) is planning to split itself into five publicly traded companies. The new business will be: IAC (Ask.com, CitySearch, et. al.), HSN, TicketMaster, Interval International (vacations), and LendingTree. The move is expected to close in the second or third quarter of 2008. There will be an 11:00 AM webcast to discuss the plan. Release.
In the release, CEO and chairman Barry Diller gets into the rationale: “We’ve been a complex enterprise almost from the very beginning 12 years ago, with hundreds of transactions over those years. And while we’ve created a lot of value, I’ve always believed our complexity and many mouthfuls of sentences to explain who we are and what our strategy is have hampered clarity and understanding with all our constituencies, particularly investors.” He added that the internet business no longer need the cash flow from the transactional businesses to stand up.
In terms of management, Diller will stay on at IAC, while Mindy Grossman, Sean Moriarty, CD Davies and Craig Nash will serve as CEOs of HSN, Ticketmaster, LendingTree and Interval respectively.
Staci adds: Diller has been under increasing pressure, particularly by majority shareholder Liberty Media, (NSDQ: LINTA) to make IAC pay off. Liberty’s John Malone sent a major volley over the bow 10 days ago in the WSJ, when he told a reporter: “There was a time when there was, I think, a 20 percent Barry premium (on Wall Street) … Today you could argue there is a Barry discount.” Malone, who gave Diller a lifetime/until retirement proxy for Liberty Media’s voting rights in what became IAC, said he personally would still “bet on Barry” but that Liberty CEO Greg Maffei was unhappy with the setup: “There is not quite as much love for Barry on average (at Liberty) … Greg has made it clear that he isn’t as enchanted with Barry as I am.”