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USA Networks reunites offline, online ticket agencies

The cable company plans to join its Ticketmaster subsidiary with spinoff Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch to sell tickets and provide local information and accommodation reservations.

USA Networks is putting some pieces back together.

The New York-based cable company said Tuesday that it will reunite its Ticketmaster subsidiary with onetime spinoff Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch in a stock deal. The combined company will have online and offline channels to sell tickets for events and will have an online stake in providing local information and accommodation reservations.

Currently, USA Networks wholly owns Los Angeles-based Ticketmaster and has a 49 percent stake in Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch. It will own 68 percent of the combined company, to be called, simply, Ticketmaster. USA Networks chief executive Barry Diller will become a co-chairman of the combined company.

In essence, the deal recreates an earlier entity. Ticketmaster spun off its online division in August 1998 as part of a merger with CitySearch. Now the offline and online ticket retailers are coming back under one tent.

"Once separated at birth in order to grow the online business, now properly rejoined with one word: 'ticketing'--online, offline, wireline or no wireline--it's now one comprehensive idea for development throughout the world," USA Networks CEO Barry Diller said in a statement.

The deal also sparked a number of personnel changes. Terry Barnes, chief executive of Ticketmaster, will become co-chairman of the new company, serving alongside Diller. The CEO of Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch, John Pleasance, will become CEO of the new company. Charles Conn, chairman of Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch, will relinquish his title and become a strategic adviser to the new company.