Barry Diller resigned his CEO role at Vivendi Universal Entertainment
Wednesday morning after 10 months of being CEO there and at Home Shopping
Network parent USA Interactive Inc.
Shortly after making that disclosure, USAi completed an agreement to collect
the shares of Internet travel agency Expedia Inc. (www.expedia.com) that
it doesn't own already for $3.3 billion in stock. USA has a 54 percent stake in
Expedia, and it had called off an acquisition push for the remaining equity last
Vivendi Universal, the French-based parent of VUE, is evaluating the sale of
its entertainment assets, including USA Network and Sci Fi Channel, to reduce a
"I stayed in as long as I did [at VUE] to stabilize things," Diller said on a
conference call detailing the Expedia agreement. "Now the conflicts are obvious
and it was inappropriate to be in that role ... This is the right thing to do,
Now that "I am the CEO of one company and intend to remain CEO of one company
in the future," Diller added, he can continue to consolidate and simplify USAi's
business. "We've got an incredible agenda to pull off," he said.
He added that there were no ambitions to pursue VUE assets on his own. "We
haven't made a proposal," Diller said. "This will come to account one way or
In a prepared statement released before the call, Diller stressed that he
never intended to make the VUE CEO job permanent, and that he and USAi will
remain Vivendi Universal shareholders. "We are all hopeful for a speedy
resolution of its future," he added.
When asked on the Expedia call about the possibility of an HSN-QVC merger if
Liberty Media Corp. gains full control of the rival shopping channel from
majority owner Comcast Corp., Diller wouldn't "go near speculation" on that.
In a separate move, USAi authorized the repurchase of up to 30 million shares
of its common stock.