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Diller Bringing In Hotels.com Stake

USA Interactive will exchange about $60 a share in stock for shares it doesn't already own.
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Updated from 7:49 a.m. EDT

Barry Diller continued the consolidation of his Internet properties Thursday by confirming plans to buy out the public owners of

Hotels.com

(ROOM)

for stock worth around $60.24 a share. Rumors of a deal erupted after Diller's

USA Interactive

(USAI) - Get Report

came to a similar arrangement with

Expedia

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(EXPE) - Get Report

, sending Hotels.com's shares from $48 in early March to almost $63 on March 27.

That bidding proved optimistic. Thursday's plan calls for USA Interactive to exchange 2.4 shares of its stock for each Hotels.com share; the latter closed Monday at $53.30 and were recently going for $58.90 on Instinet. In a reflection of the relative profitability of different Internet segments, the roughly 13% Hotels.com premium is substantially less than the 30% upside Expedia shareholders picked up when Diller announced a plan to buy them out in March.

All told the Hotels.com buyout is worth about $1.1 billion. USA Interactive's stake in the reservation system is already 68%, and it controls about 97% of the company's voting stock.

"The transaction would represent the final step in USA's efforts, begun in June 2002, to simplify its corporate structure by buying in its public subsidiaries," USAI said in a statement.

Diller's company said Expedia and Hotels.com will continue to operate as separate companies, but added that travel is "its own sector and USA would continue to review strategy and over time may decide to make changes."

USA Interactive completed the buyout of its other publicly traded operating unit,

Ticketmaster

, in January.