Barry Diller surrendered his post as chairman and CEO of Vivendi Universal
Entertainment, but he did not say whether he would now pursue a takeover of the
U.S. media assets.
Since Diller's USA Interactive sold USA Network and Sci Fi Channel to major
shareholder Vivendi Universal last spring, Diller has served as CEO of both
publicly traded USAi and VUE, an odd role that had USAi investors questioning
his loyalty to the Internet travel and cable shopping company.
"Now that Vivendi Universal has begun a formal process in reviewing options
for its entertainment assets, it is appropriate to step aside from any direct
management responsibility. USA Interactive and I remain shareholders of Vivendi
Universal Entertainment, and we are all hopeful for a speedy resolution of its
future," Diller said in a prepared statement.
The news came as USAi finally cut a deal to fully take
over online travel company Expedia Inc. for $3.3 billion worth of USAi stock.
The company already owned 54 percent of Expedia.
Diller said that he's not chasing Vivendi Universal's entertainment assets.
If USAI didn't have a $2 billion stake in VUE he contends he would have zero
interest in that auction process, dismissing the contention of pretty much
everyone who knows him that he has "desperate yearnings" to be control a studio
and TV portfolio.
"They're talking to many people. We have made no proposal. We have no
intention of actually, so to speak, making a proposal. We want to see what this
process brings back to them. Then if somebody calls us up and tells us well
they'd like us to consider this or that ... then we'll address that at the
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