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Travel boss axed over relationship

Do Not UseDo Not Use 28/04/2016
Darren Huston resigned as head of travel booking website Priceline following an investigation into his relationship with an employee © Getty Images Darren Huston resigned as head of travel booking website Priceline following an investigation into his relationship with an employee

The boss of travel booking website Priceline.com has resigned after an investigation uncovered his relationship with an employee.

The company announced that Darren Huston had resigned from his position with immediate effect.

Priceline said Mr Huston, who has served as chief executive since 2014, acknowledged the relationship and "expressed regret".

Jeffery Boyd, Priceline's former chief executive was appointed interim head.

Mr Boyd was Priceline's chief executive from 2002 to 2013.

"Despite this surprising news, we remain constructive on Priceline shares," analyst Mark Mahaney from RBC Capital Markets wrote in a note to clients.

"Having former chief executive Jeff Boyd return as interim chief executive will provide continuity, experience, and leadership," he added.

The company's share price fell 1.2% on Thursday.

Investigation

Priceline gave few details about the relationship that led to Mr Huston's departure.

The relationship was revealed following an investigation overseen by members of the board of directors. It was not with an employee under Mr Huston's direct supervision.

"The investigation determined that Mr Huston had acted contrary to the company's code of conduct and had engaged in activities inconsistent with the board's expectations for executive conduct, which Mr Huston acknowledged and for which he expressed regret," Priceline said in a statement.

Mr Huston has also been replaced as the head of Booking.com, which is owned by Priceline.

Gillian Tans, Booking.com's chief operating officer, will become the site's new fulltime head.

Financially stable

Priceline releases its second quarter earnings on 2 May. A spokesperson for the company said Mr Huston's resignation was not related to Priceline's financial situation.

"This did not involve issues about the company's financial statements, accounting or internal controls over financial reporting," said Leslie Cafferty, head of Priceline's communications.

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