Diller On Top in Liberty/IAC Ruling

Judge rules IAC chief can proceed with spin-off plans against Malone's wishes
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2008 8:03 PM CDT
John C. Malone, chairman of the board of Liberty Media, speaks during a stockholders meeting.    (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, file)
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(Newser) – Barry Diller took round one today in his feud with fellow billionaire John Malone: A Delaware judge ruled that Malone can’t force Diller out of Interactive Corp. for trying to break up the company, Bloomberg reports. The ruling prevents Malone's Liberty Media from seizing control; Liberty has a minority stake in IAC but, by prior agreement with Liberty, Diller votes Liberty's shares, Bloomberg reports.

The two aren’t done with the law: The judge will rule later on whether Diller's IAC board has betrayed shareholders by approving the breakup plan. Today's decision hinged on whether the Liberty-IAC agreement limited Diller’s freedom in “conducting any transaction that restricts Liberty’s rights." IAC lawyers argued that later changes to the contract removed those limits. IAC shares rose after-hours on news of the ruling.