Expedia owner InterActiveCorp scoops up Hotwire

Further expanding its online travel empire, InterActiveCorp agreed to buy discount travel Web site Hotwire.com for US$665 million in cash and the assumption of about US$20 million in options and warrants, the company said Monday.

Hotwire will become part of a newly formed InterActiveCorp travel division that also includes Expedia.com, Expedia Corporate Travel, Hotels.com, Travelnow.com and other businesses and brands, InterActiveCorp, formerly USA Interactive Inc., said in a statement.

Hotwire was launched three years ago by investment firm Texas Pacific Group and six major U.S. airlines as a competitor to Priceline.com Inc. Both sites offer bargain travel and don't show the supplier's name until after booking. On Priceline a shopper has to place a bid, while Hotwire shows a price.

InterActiveCorp, headed by media veteran Barry Diller, last month completed its acquisition of Expedia. The company in March announced it would buy all outstanding shares of Expedia that it did not already own. Other InterActiveCorp Web properties include dating site Match.com, finance site LendingTree and Citysearch.

The Hotwire acquisition is subject to customary regulatory approvals and should close during the fourth quarter of 2003, InterActiveCorp said.

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