Barry Diller, chairman and chief executive of InterActive Corp., on Monday disputed a New York Times report that profits at two of the Internet company’s travel Web sites might be improperly inflated.
The Times said in an article on Sunday that two of InterActive Corp.’s main growth engines, travel Web sites Hotels.com and Expedia, might be paying less in hotel occupancy taxes than government authorities think is owed.
Media mogul Diller said in a statement that while a “limited number” of the companies’ tax jurisdictions have raised the issue, “there is simply no basis for the supposition that the companies will face liability in all jurisdictions.”
Diller said the company was in “productive discussions” with tax authorities in some jurisdictions to resolve the issue and noted that it had disclosed the matter in public filings.
Diller also took issue with The New York Times over the adequacy of the company’s public disclosures and defended the use of pro forma results to “clarify and to add information.”
A separate New York Times piece on Sunday concerned InterActive Corp.’s venture with Vivendi, in which Diller received 1.5 percent and InterActive Corp. 5.44 percent in Vivendi’s film, TV and theme park business, Vivendi Universal Entertainment.
Vivendi Universal guaranteed the value of Dillard’s stake at $275 million, while it did not guarantee the value of the InterActive stake, the newspaper reported. Diller has transferred some unspecified part of that stake to three executive officers of InterActive, the article said.
Diller said the piece suggested he received his interest in the venture in exchange for his agreement to vote in favor of the VUE deal.
“I received my stake in VUE in exchange for various personal rights I gave up, including entering into a non-compete agreement and a standstill agreement, and my agreement to serve as chairman and CEO of VUE,” Diller said. It has nothing to do with any agreement to vote in favor of the transaction.”