Diller Says Valuations Kept IAC From Buying Companies

Barry Diller, chairman and chief executive officer of IAC/InterActiveCorp, said recent acquisitions his company considered fell apart over valuations.

IAC, which operates the Ask.com search site and the Match.com dating site, had planned to make large purchases over the past two years and entered into negotiations on about 20 deals, he said.

“We haven’t found anything to buy,” Diller said in an interview at Bloomberg’s New York headquarters.

IAC, based in New York, will continue to use its cash to buy back shares and make small acquisitions rather than pursue a large takeover, he said. IAC had $1.5 billion in cash and short-term investments as of March 31.

IAC has spent about $400 million in recent years on small acquisitions, Diller said. Now it’s focused on building companies, such as its premium-content studio Electus, rather than buying established media and entertainment brands, he said. Diller formerly ran Fox Inc. and Paramount Pictures Corp.

IAC and Ben Silverman, the former co-chairman of NBC Universal entertainment, announced the Electus partnership last July. They announced their first content agreement, producing programs for Yahoo! Inc. that allow advertisers to integrate their brands into the shows, in January.

Diller said that Ask.com is overshadowed by market leader Google Inc., and that he’d be “up for consolidation” if he found the right partner.

“Google is getting to a point of absolute dictatorship,” Diller said.

Rival search-engine operators Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo! Inc. have expressed interest in purchasing Ask.com over the years, he said, but there have been no inquiries recently.

IAC rose 19 cents to $23.68 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have climbed 16 percent this year.

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