Priceline CEO resigns after probe into employee relationship

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Online travel booking company Priceline said Thursday that its CEO resigned after he had a personal relationship with an employee.

The employee was not under CEO Darren Huston’s direct supervision, Priceline said. But a company investigation found the relationship still violated Priceline’s code of conduct.

Huston “acknowledged” the relationship and “expressed regret,” Priceline said. A spokeswoman declined to provide more details about the relationship or the investigation.

The company is searching for a permanent successor. In the meantime, chairman and former CEO Jeffery Boyd will run the company as interim CEO and president. Boyd was president and CEO of The Priceline Group Inc. from 2002 to 2013.

Priceline’s headquarters are in Norwalk, Connecticut. Huston, however, worked out of the company’s Amsterdam office.

Huston, 50, had been CEO of Priceline for more than two years. He joined the company nearly five years ago from Microsoft Corp.

He was CEO when Priceline paid $2.6 billion to buy online restaurant reservation company OpenTable, a move meant to expand its business beyond hotel bookings.

Priceline’s stock is up about 18 per cent since Huston became CEO in January 2014. Its stock slipped $16.35, or 1.2 per cent, to $1,337.39 in afternoon trading Thursday.

Huston will not receive severance pay, Priceline said.

Besides its namesake website, Priceline’s other websites include hotel booking site, travel search site Kayak and