Barry Diller agreed to pay $480,000 to settle a U.S. Federal Trade Commission complaint that he broke antitrust law by purchasing almost a million shares of Coca-Cola Co. without reporting the transactions.
Under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Act, Diller should have notified the FTC and the Justice Department when he bought the stock between 2010 and 2012, according to statements from both agencies today. The law also requires a waiting period before a transaction over the reporting threshold closes so one of the agencies can evaluate whether it hurts competition.
Diller, co-creator of the Fox Broadcasting Co. and the billionaire chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI), bought 120,000 shares of Atlanta-based Coca-Cola on Nov. 1, 2010, according to the FTC complaint, which was filed today in federal court in Washington by the Justice Department.
As a result of those purchases, he held voting shares worth more than $63.4 million, which was the reporting threshold under Hart-Scott-Rodino at the time, the FTC said.
Between Nov. 1, 2010, and April 26, 2012, Diller bought an additional 605,000 shares of Coca-Cola voting securities and on April 27, 2012, he acquired 264,000 more shares, the FTC said. He failed to make the necessary filings for all of the transactions, according to the agency. Diller subsequently made corrective filings.
The FTC took action after warning Diller in 1998 to establish an effective compliance program after he failed to report the acquisition of voting shares in CitySearch Inc. The FTC declined to seek penalties at that time.
Kent Landers, a spokesman for Coca-Cola, said in an e-mailed statement that Diller is a “valued member” of the board and his status remains unchanged.
Justine Sacco, a spokeswoman for New York-based IAC/InteractiveCorp., declined to comment on the FTC penalty.