Shares of TripAdvisor (NASDAQ: TRIP ) popped nearly 7% yesterday after John Malone's Liberty Interactive (NASDAQ: LINTA ) paid a healthy premium to grow its stake in the travel reviews website.
Liberty Interactive was willing to pay a 63% premium for Barry Diller's stake -- shelling out $62.50 a pop for millions of shares when the market was pricing TripAdvisor in the low $40s -- because of a unique arrangement between Malone and Diller.
Diller's ownership was just for 3% of the company, but he held super-voting power for the stock owned by Liberty Interactive. Buying Diller out removes that ability. Liberty Interactive now owns 22% of TripAdivsor, but a controlling 57% chunk of the voting power.
Investors shouldn't get too excited here. Malone is unlikely to be willing to pay nearly as much for the rest of the company -- and that's even if he wants a bigger piece of TripAdvisor.
Online travel-booking websites have been trading lower lately on fears that the fiscal cliff will result in a drop next year in corporate and leisure travel.
This isn't the only ownership issue that Malone's working on these days.
Over at his Liberty Media (NASDAQ: STRZA ) empire of media assets, Malone has spent the past year growing his 40% preferred share stake in Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI ) to an effective 49.8% position. Liberty Media plans to boost its stake to a controlling majority stake if it receives regulatory clearance in a few days.
Sirius XM has been a trickier digestion process than this week's controlling assumption at TripAdvisor because Sirius XM is the only game in town when it comes to satellite radio. The combination of Sirius and XM took more than a year to clear antitrust hurdles, and now regulators are being deliberately careful in letting anyone -- even someone with a history of taking majority stakes and spinning off the assets to stakeholders -- gain control of the premium radio giant.
Malone never sleeps.
Running of the bulls
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