Diller books hotel site without reservation

Shareholders get 2.4 USA shares for each of their own

Investors applauded Thursday as Barry Diller’s USA Interactive snapped up all the shares of online-reservation service Hotels.com it didn’t already own in a $1.1 billion stock swap, cementing the media mogul’s commitment to his portfolio of transaction-based businesses.

Move comes just weeks after reports that Diller had ankled his second post as head of Vivendi Universal’s entertainment division. Exec has weathered heavy criticism in recent months over perceived conflicts of interest between the two jobs.

Premium of almost 15%

Under the terms of the latest pact, Hotels.com shareholders will get 2.4 USA shares for each of their shares, repping a premium of almost 15% to the stock’s close on Wednesday.

The latest deal broadens USA’s stable of transactional assets, which already include Ticketmaster/Citysearch, Expedia and the Home Shopping Network. Just last month, USA expanded its stake in Expedia in a $3.1 billion deal.

Thursday’s news sent the shares of both companies sharply higher on Wall Street. USA gained more than 6% to close at $26.69, while Hotels.com soared by almost 20% to end the day at $63.50.

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