The long and lucrative partnership between media giants John Malone and Barry Diller may be nearing its end, the Wall Street Journal reports. "We've been frustrated with each other at times," says Diller, whose IAC empire, backed by Malone's Liberty Media, includes the Home Shopping Network, Ticketmaster and Expedia. Lackluster business is raising tensions between the two and threatening their complex ties.
Malone owns a majority voting stake in Diller's companies, but a proxy agreement, valid until death, allows Diller to vote on Malone's behalf. Now, with business slumping, Malone is asserting his influence and Diller is chafing for independence. Malone, who likens the partnership to a "marriage," may be willing to wait it out. He once reminded investors that "if a bus gets" Diller, Liberty Media takes control of IAC.