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Dec 4, 2019

Expedia CEO, CFO quit in clash on strategy as chairman takes over

Expedia Group CEO Mark Okerstrom

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Expedia Group Inc. said Chief Executive Officer Mark Okerstrom and Chief Financial Officer Alan Pickerill will resign effective immediately after clashing with the board on the travel company’s direction. Barry Diller, board chairman, and vice chairman Peter Kern will oversee the company’s leadership team and manage daily operations while the board looks for long-term leadership, according to a statement Wednesday.

“Ultimately, senior management and the board disagreed on strategy,” Diller, 77, said in the statement. “Earlier this year, Expedia embarked on an ambitious reorganization plan with the goal of bringing our brands and technology together in a more efficient way. This reorganization, while sound in concept, resulted in a material loss of focus on our current operations, leading to disappointing third quarter results and a lackluster near-term outlook. The board disagreed with that outlook, as well as the departing leadership’s vision for growth, strongly believing the company can accelerate growth in 2020.”

Shares gained 5.2 per cent in early trading in New York. They are down 12 per cent so far this year.

Expedia has been plowing resources into its home-sharing division, Vrbo, in a bid to challenge rivals Airbnb Inc. and Booking Holdings Inc. in the booming market for alternative accommodation. While Vrbo dominates the market in the U.S. for purely vacation-rentals, Airbnb and Booking capture a much larger share of the broader global US$34 billion alternative accommodation market, which also includes non-traditional hotels and home sharing.

Eric Hart, Expedia’s chief strategy officer will serve as acting CFO.

Expedia also announced a new share repurchase authorization for as much as an additional 20 million shares of common stock, which is in addition to the nine million shares available under the existing authorization.