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Microsoft bids $1.23bn for Norwegian search firm

Wants to mine web with Fast buy

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Microsoft is to acquire Norwegian business search engine company Fast Search and Transfer for 6.6bn kroner ($1.23bn).

The software giant said it would pay 19 Norwegian kroner a share for the Oslo-based firm, which represents a 42 per cent premium to the closing share price on 4 January, the day before Microsoft stepped in with its bid.

Fast's board of directors and nearly half of its shareholders have already voted in favour of the buy-out and urged its remaining shareholders to accept Redmond's hefty offer.

In recent months Microsoft has beefed up its Web 2.0 intentions by investing in a number of data centres inside and outside the US as it clambers for a larger chunk of the Google search engine pie.

The Fast deal, which should be completed in the second quarter of 2008 subject to the usual regulatory approvals, will give the firm tailored internet search functions for corporate customers that include the likes of United Parcel Services and Deutsche Telekom AG.

Publicly-listed Fast said it welcomed the arrival of the Bill Gates jamboree, perhaps unsurprising given that in its last set of results the firm reported a third-quarter loss of $100m.

Microsoft press release, or Fast is here. ®

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