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Liberty Interactive, which cedes its voting control of Expedia Inc. to chairman Barry Diller and last month increased its stake of common stock to 18%, up from 10%, indicated at an investor conference that it hopes to shed its holdings in Expedia.
Bloomberg reports that Liberty CEO Greg Maffei told attendees at the FBR & Co. conference in New York October 9 that Liberty has mulled an asset swap or a distribution to shareholders as a means of getting out of Expedia.
Liberty controls 56% of Expedia Inc.’s voting rights and, through a long-term agreement, hands over that voting power to Diller, Expedia’s longtime senior executive and chairman.
Bloomberg quotes Maffei as saying that Liberty has considered acquiring Expedia Inc. outright, but “that’s not what he [Diller] wanted.”
Depending on how Liberty would exit Expedia, it would have a bearing on the online travel company’s future direction, depending on who would end up holding Liberty’s stake.
Expedia has also been the subject of rumors that cash-rich Alibaba of China was interested in acquiring Expedia.
Expedia owns one of China’s leading online travel agencies, eLong, although it is positioned well behind Ctrip and Qunar.
In addition to his involvement with Expedia, Maffei is chairman of TripAdvisor, which Expedia spun off in late 2011, and CEO of the tracking stock, Liberty TripAdvisor Holdings.
Maffei said no one is going to buy TripAdvisor, it is not for sale.
“TRIP has been a serial acquirer of company after company after company, more recently Viator and Laforchette,” Maffei said. “A whole bunch of fill-in acquisitions along the way. I think there’s a lot of that to be expected.”