12 December 2006

Has Diller lost his touch?

Did Barry Diller and his team miss out on one of the best opportunities to address their issues in a BIG way?

Either someone is asleep at the switch or my judgement is failing me (both are possible!)

So why do I think that Diller should have made the run at Sabre?

Lets agree on the fact that it would make the absolute powerhouse worldwide. Creating a gameover effect across the board. It would probably pass regulatory inspection in the US but would have a hard time in EU. The cost of the 10% buyback is about $6.5 billion+ Sabre will go for less than $5 Billion. The resulting company would not create too big a problem for the technology and reduce the COGS in several areas. It would improve the faltering supply chain relationships and perhaps even make a kinder gentler face. In the newly married Michelle Peluso http://svc.travelocity.com/about/press/0,,TRAVELOCITY%7CBIO_CEO,00.html
it would have a first rate marketing exec. Even Sam could become useful. So a stronger footprint in OTA and a strong supply chain in Sabre plus good footprints in the Hotel and Air channels. This makes a lot of sence. But then nothing is ever this easy.

I suspect it is just bad timing. If this opportunity had presented itself 2 years ago - I am sure that EXP would have jumped at the chance. But now Diller, Dara and Co are running scared. Sure stockholders will get a boost but frankly - the bigger bet would have been to grab significant revenue growth and power across the globe. Can Expedia do it cheaper on their own? Probably but i still think it would have been a better use of the cash pile than resorting to a stock buy back.

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