ME and Ophelia

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

A billionaire American is shopping for European online companies

Barry Diller, boss of InterActive, the world's largest e-commerce company says he has $5 billion (£3 billion) to spend.

Not content with owning the world's two largest online travel businesses, Expedia and, as well as other leading online brands such as Ticketmaster and, he wants to double non-US revenues (currently 17%) over the next few years.

Britain's and Ebookers fit the Diller mould, and his announcement has led to a flurry of speculation about his next move.

Speaking at a Goldman Sachs conference in America last week, Diller said: "The goal for us is to become the largest and most profitable e-commerce company in the world".

Diller has already spent almost $5 billion this year, buying out the rest of Expedia for $3.2 billion, snapping up Lending Tree, an online mortgage broker, for $720m, and last month swallowing Hotwire, an online holiday company, for $665m in cash.

Now Diller has Europe in his sights, where the online travel market is estimated to be worth $40 billion a year.

"International expansion in travel is vital for us," he said. "We have to do it. One of my colleagues believes that our international revenue will be twice what it is in the US within five years. Europe is 50% bigger than the US just in travel."

But Diller isn't just interested in travel. He has shown he is willing to buy up any profitable online services, such as online dating companies.

And he isn't just looking for $1 billion behemoths to acquire. Last December InterActive gobbled up Udate, a British matchmaking firm, in a deal that valued it at about £150m.

[Courtesy Matthew Wall and Dominic Rushe, Business, The Sunday Times, October 5, 2003]

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 10/07/2003
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