Peter Kafka

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Barry Diller Shows Up Late, Gets What He Wants: IAC to Buy About.com From New York Times for $300 Million

The New York Times, which was set to sell its About.com unit to Answers.com, now looks ready to sell it to Barry Diller instead.

People familiar with the transaction say the Times now plans to sell About to Diller’s IAC conglomerate for about $300 million. The Times had previously planned to sell About to Answers for about $270 million.

Diller lobbed in his offer after AllThingsD broke the news of the pending Answers transaction.

Apparently, the fact that he’s offering a “clean cash” deal helped sway the Times and its Allen & Co. bankers. Answers and its private equity backers Summit Partners and TA Associates were going to finance the deal with debt, and would have included equity in Answers as part of the transaction.

No comment from the Times or IAC.

Update: And now, the press release(s)

IAC’s Ask.com Acquires The About Group from the New York Times Company

NEW YORK, August 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Today IAC (Nasdaq: IACI) announced that Ask.com has agreed to acquire 100% of The About Group from The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT) for $300 million in cash.

“The About.com acquisition is completely in line with IAC’s M&A strategy of acquiring, at disciplined valuations, companies that are complementary and synergistic with both our existing businesses and our areas of expertise,” said Greg Blatt, CEO of IAC. “We are extremely excited to bring these two businesses together; About.com’s content will differentiate and greatly increase the authority of Ask.com’s offerings, while Ask’s expertise in search technology and user experience will improve the discoverability of existing content on About.com. The complementary nature of these two businesses will provide significant synergies going forward, and thus we expect that About.com will generate more profit as a part of Ask.com and IAC than it has been able to over the last few years.”

With nearly 1,000 topic sites and more than three million unique articles, About.com is one of the most comprehensive content and reference libraries on the Internet, offering expert, quality content across 90,000 topics that helps users find solutions to a wide range of daily needs. Globally, nearly 100 million unique users visit About.com on a monthly basis. Ask.com, with more than 100 million users globally of its own, is one of the leading search and Q&A platforms on the internet.

“This is a rare merger with true bilateral synergies,” said Joey Levin, CEO of IAC Search & Applications. “On the one hand, the Ask.com search and content business has generated exceptional revenue and profit growth by marketing and distributing a quality consumer search and Q&A experience, and About provides Ask with a tremendous amount of quality content to further enhance that experience and the credibility of the Ask brand. On the other hand, About.com has created, and today continues to grow, a library of content which consumers love across a vast array of categories, and we can now market and distribute that content and the About brand through Ask and significantly increase traffic and profitability at About.”

Upon closing, The About Group will join IAC’s Search and Applications reporting segment, joining Ask.com, Dictionary.com, Mindspark, nRelate, and Pronto. Darline Jean, About’s CEO, will report to Doug Leeds, Ask.com CEO. This segment has recorded double digit growth for the last two years, consistently outperforming expectations and driving the company’s total revenue and profits. The deal was signed on Sunday August 26, 2012.

The New York Times Company Agrees to Sell Its About Group to IAC
NEW YORK, August 26, 2012 – The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT) has entered into an agreement to sell its About Group, which includes the Web sites of About.com, ConsumerSearch.com and CalorieCount.com, to IAC (NASDAQ: IACI) for $300 million in cash.
The all cash transaction is expected to close in the next several weeks. The Company intends to use the net proceeds for general corporate purposes.
“About.com has been a strong contributor to our company since its acquisition in 2005,” said Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., chairman, The New York Times Company. “About’s early expertise in search engine optimization, expert content and revenues from cost-per-click and display advertising made it a valuable component of our portfolio for the past seven years. This sale will allow the Times Company to focus on the development and growth of our core brands locally, nationally and on a global scale.”


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