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When Carl Talked to Barry: Sources Say Time Warner Investor Carl Icahn Has Had Conversations with IAC/InterActive (Ask Jeeves) CEO Barry Diller

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According to this Fortune.com story: Time Warner: Is Icahn looking to deal with Diller?, that legenday investor Carl Icahn (controls about 3.1% of outstanding TW shares) and who is preparing to wage a proxy fight for control of the TW Board of Directors has had conversations with IAC/InterActive president, Barry Diller.

From the article:

Icahn is also seeking to merge some of Time Warner's businesses -- AOL, the TV networks, and the movie studio -- with an Internet portal. A source says Icahn has had discussions with one or more portals about combining the businesses and then spinning off the publishing and cable operations. And other sources confirm there have been discussions between Icahn's camp and IAC, the Internet company run by Barry Diller [and new owner of Ask Jeeves]. How could Icahn pry those businesses out of Time Warner using IAC, given that TWX is nine times bigger than IAC? That's unclear. It's possible that Diller, Icahn, and [Bruce] Wasserstein could come up with additional partners. [My emphasis]Right now Diller says the discussions are neither hot nor ongoing.

Is a discussion(s) between Icahn and Diller a surprise? Not really.

You probably remember that right before the Google/AOL deal was announced last month, Icahn issued a public statement calling that the Google deal a "disasterous decision," if it, "makes it more difficult in any way or effectively preclude a merger or other type of transaction. In a statement he specifically mentions the names of four companies:

  • IAC/InterActive
  • eBay
  • Yahoo
  • Microsoft

Icahn's statement added:
...a recent Goldman Sachs report concludes, "In contrast to the conventional perspective, we believe that eBay, followed by InterActive Corp, would provide greater incremental benefits to AOL's option value with fewer conflicts of interest than Yahoo! while MSN and Google would provide the least incremental benefits."

Interesting days indeed. Stay tuned.


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