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CEO of Norwalk based Priceline out over affair with employee

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Former Priceline CEO Darren Huston

NORWALK  — Priceline CEO Darren Huston resigned on Thursday after an investigation found that he had an improper relationship with an employee.

The investigation determined Huston acted contrary to the online travel company’s code of conduct and “engaged in activities inconsistent” with that expected of executives. Priceline didn’t say who the “personal” relationship was with other than to say it was someone who was not under Huston’s “direct” supervision.

As a result of Huston’s actions, Priceline said he will forfeit part of his unvested stock rewards and won’t receive any severance payments. Huston acknowledged and expressed regret over the relationship.

Huston is being replaced immediately by chairman Jeffery Boyd, who will serve as interim CEO and president of Priceline while the board launches a search for a permanent successor. Boyd is a 16-year Priceline veteran who successfully led the company between 2002 and 2013 as president and CEO.

Priceline also said Gillian Tans, the company’s current president and chief operating officer, is being tapped to lead Priceline’s Booking.com business. Tans has been a leader at Priceline since 2002.

“We are confident the company is in strong hands while we conduct a search for a new CEO,” James Guyette, Priceline’s lead independent director, said in a statement. He added that he’s “satisfied” with the “thorough review” of the Huston situation.

Priceline stock fell 2% in premarket trading following the announcement.