WSJ: Diller close to $2 billion deal for Ask Jeeves

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Monday, March 21, 2005

Barry Diller's InterActiveCorp (IAC) is near a US$2 billion deal to buy search engine Ask Jeeves, according to a report in Monday's Wall Street Journal.

The corporate boards from both companies were in talks all weekend negotiating what appears to be an all-stock deal. If approved, the price tag would be a substantial premium over Ask Jeeves valuation of $1.4 billion as of Friday's stock market close.

The acquisition of Oakland, California-based Ask Jeeves by IAC would mean they own a known brand name and get a foothold in revenues from search engine advertising. The company also would become a direct competitor with companies such as Google, Yahoo!, Amazon.com and Microsoft who also have launched their own high-profile internet search engines. Ask Jeeves also owns other brands, including Excite.com and iWon.com.

Diller has built InterActiveCorp on the backbone of the cash generated by Home Shopping Network, a company he used to bankroll the purchases of a large portfolio of internet and electronic commerce companies. These include Expedia, Ticketmaster, Match.com, CitySearch and the LendingTree.

He also bought and grew cable networks USA Network and Sci Fi Channel before selling them off to NBC Universal, of which he is the largest individual shareholder.

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