John Malone has made his latest move in the long-running chess match with friendly rival Barry Diller, boosting his company’s stake in Diller’s depressed InterActiveCorp.
Liberty Media’s position in IAC is now 30%, up from 25%, after Liberty bought 14 million shares at $24.25 a share. IAC shares lost about 28% of their value in 2007.
Diller announced a vast reorg of IAC last year, and its financial performance has improved, even if its stock price has not.
Malone and Diller, longtime combatants on the media stage not known to be shrinking violets, own many competing assets, among them QVC and Home Shopping Network, respectively.
The breakup of IAC into five distinct entities could give Malone the chance to buy more or even make a run for all of HSN and therefore control that famously profitable business segment.
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Malone has publicly conceded relishing having a degree of control over Diller’s fate. Most Wall Streeters feel that his opportunistic share purchase, regardless of whether it leads to a play for HSN, is mostly about keeping Diller on his toes and accountable as he goes about remaking IAC.