Liberty Media Unloading IAC Shares At Rapid Pace

    December 31, 2008

Liberty Media – and/or its chairman, John Malone – may not have a lot of faith left in and other IAC properties.  It seems that Liberty Media has selling the company’s stock left and right, unloading 193,100 shares in the last week alone.

John Malone
 John Malone

Again, the simplest explanation for these moves may be best.  At $15.77 per share, IAC’s stock is currently much closer to its 52-week low ($13.27) than its 52-week high ($26.99).  The period following December 22nd has been especially tough, with it sinking 3.55 percent since then.  And when was the last time you heard great news involving Ask?

But there are other possibilities.  Julia Angwin, who puts the value of Liberty Media’s recent IAC stock sales at $17.5 million, writes, "Mr. Malone, well known for his complex deals to avoid taxes, could use the paper losses from the IAC sales to offset taxes on other gains. . . .  Recently, Liberty Media has written down the value of its IAC stock by $440 million in the third quarter, citing the ‘lack of near-term prospects for recovery’ in its IAC investment."

There’s also a bit of personal history to consider.  Malone and Barry Diller, the chairman and CEO of IAC, had a serious disagreement over whether splitting IAC was the right move.

Regardless, though, it looks like the odds of Ask remaining any sort of player in the search engine game have become a little slimmer.