Diller sees economy worsening toward year-end

NEW YORK Mon Jul 7, 2008 5:04pm BST

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. media mogul Barry Diller expects the U.S. economy to face tougher conditions in the second half of the year as consumer spending weakens, he said in an interview with CNBC that was broadcast on Monday.

The chief executive of IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI.O) said although it was difficult to predict how long the downturn would last, he was certain it would not be short.

"We are probably going to go into conditions that we have not seen in a very long time, probably towards the end of the year," Diller said in the interview.

He told CNBC he remained confident in the business prospects of IAC, which is in the process of separating into five publicly traded units.

IAC's brand names include online ticketing company Ticketmaster, home shopping network HSN, and mortgage marketplace LendingTree.

Diller said he would be "thrilled" once the spin-offs are completed in coming weeks, despite a difficult financial environment.

His plans to spin off the units had been held up by a dispute with controlling shareholder Liberty Media (LINTA.O), owned by fellow media mogul John Malone, who Diller described as a friend and long time business partner of 15 years.

In January, Liberty asked a court to remove Diller from his role as chairman in a dispute over who controls the company, but the court eventually sided with Diller.

Diller said in the interview that his business relationship with Malone remained healthy. "There are no current issues between us."

He also commented on the on-again, off-again merger talks between Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O). and Yahoo Inc (YHOO.O), saying that he still believed a deal would eventually be reached.

"It's inexplicable," said Diller in the CNBC interview. "It seems to me if you're going to fire a $45 billion gun that you (have to) hit the target."

(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Derek Caney)

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