This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, April 24, 2002. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
BRENDA BUTTNER, GUEST HOST: Expedia and Ticketmaster are just two of the crown jewels in Barry Diller's empire. Also reporting today, his beloved USA Networks. The media company gave a bullish outlook going forward and posted break-even results, when you take out those operations that'll be sold in a pending deal with Vivendi Universal.
Earlier, I spoke with the media mogul himself and I asked what he thought of today's numbers.
BARRY DILLER, CEO, USA NETWORKS (USAI): I cannot say they are as good as they could get in life, but I mean, in all cases, they were positive. So they were really good.
BUTTNER: Well, what is going on at the top of your company? Is Jean-Marie Messier messing up? He has got his employees out on the streets protesting against him. His shareholders are up in arms. What is happening?
DILLER: Well, first of all, he is not at the top of the company that I think you were referring to, which is called USA Interactive. Yesterday, our shareholders agreed to split our assets so to speak and sell our media entertainment assets to Vivendi Universal...
DILLER: ... while retaining our interactive assets. And the earnings we reported today were, as you emphasized, really good. As far as Vivendi Universal and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, they are in a period of transition. And, as I said in other venues, I think that a lot of this is a big media storm. I do not know if they reported today or yesterday...
BUTTNER: Yes, they did.
DILLER: I think that they are going to do their final reporting in U.S. gap from French reporting. They are going to do that next week. But they also reported really good earnings. So the things that are going on in France are of France, and I don't think we can really figure them out anyway.
BUTTNER: Well, I don't know. I mean, I do not know how much of a media circus this is. I mean, the shareholders are clearly unhappy. So are the employees. If they came to you and said, Barry Diller, we want you at the head of this company, you can clean it up, what would you say?
DILLER: I am already gainfully employed. I'm not available.
BUTTNER: Yes, you are. But, sir, when you left FOX, you said I don't want to work for anybody anymore?
DILLER: No, that is not really what I said.
BUTTNER: All right.
DILLER: To not endlessly clarify, what I said was that I wanted to get involved in a business that I controlled and dominated, that actually working for somebody was never the issue for me. But what I wanted to do was have an asset base that I built myself.
So, you know, the idea of, "working for somebody, not working for somebody," the last person I worked for is the person that controls NewsCorp and I had a great experience doing that. And when people said to me, well, why would you in this other thing that I am doing, the second -- my night job so to speak -- why would you, "go to work for anyone again?" And I said because I actually enjoy that collaboration.
BUTTNER: Well, as this collaboration continues, is what you need a bigger USA distribution network? Would you consider buying an NBC, for example?
DILLER: Well, you know, when you consider buying an NBC, what we've said in the past is that with USA Network and the Sci-Fi Channel and all the new channels we're going to introduce, we think we're not going to get marginalized. At the same time, if an opportunity came along, any opportunity to extend our distribution, we would probably do it.
But I can't imagine that that's going to happen for the next year or so. I think that this is a time for us to not only build what we've got, but to begin new services rather than be on a kind of acquisition trail. And I also think it is kind of impractical.
BUTTNER: A year or so is a pretty short time frame, sir. What would you say that NBC is worth? What would you value it at?
DILLER: I would not ever, ever value another company publicly. I would only do it very privately, I mean, I wouldn't do it.
BUTTNER: OK. Let's move on to ABC then. Michael Eisner is having a lot of headaches there. Maybe he would like to get rid of that one. Does that one look good on your roster?
DILLER: No, no, no, no. As I said, we are not, at Vivendi Universal Entertainment, we are not looking for a big, big fish to go buy the day after tomorrow. So I do not think that we should even speculate that. And I'm certainly not going to speculate about other companies.
What I would say is that there is a lot of work to do to integrate these companies together. I mean, Vivendi and Universal and USA have been separated for about four years now. Now they are back together and now is the time to integrate them and to plot the strategy for the future, which does not involve, the day after tomorrow, an acquisition.
BUTTNER: Even to compete with the likes of a Disney or a FOX or a Viacom?
DILLER: No. We will compete with all of those in terms of our current products and new products we will introduce, not necessarily in terms of acquisition.
BUTTNER: Your stock has done quite well. It's up about 35 percent in the past year. You could give Vivendi some of that juice. They have lost about that much value just year to date?
DILLER: Well, I mean, I hope that I'll be able to contribute to Vivendi Universal, and I hope that it will have an eventual effect on their stock price. But, again, they are a company in transition, and they are at the very earliest stage of transition. And, therefore, looking at their stock price today is kind of irrelevant.
The only reason to look at their stock price today is to say is it potentially an opportunity for tomorrow because it is not an opportunity for today. No stock price of a company in transition ever is. So, I think it is all kind of looking under the wrong shell for the wrong thing.
BUTTNER: USA Networks CEO Barry Diller.
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