Italian media firm grabs French shop site

First Excite Europe and now...

Italian network GoAdv is buying French comparison site LeGuide.com for about €50m in cash and shares.

GoAdv owns Excite Europe; for younger readers, Excite was a poster child for Bubble1.0. It was briefly worth several billion dollars and spent almost as much on its European launch party in London's fashionable Leicester Square.

Its fortunes faded, however, and Excite Europe was sold to Ask Jeeves in 2005 for €6m. Two years later it went to GoAdv for €2.7m.

GoAdv claims 17.5m users for its various sites, and claims the purchase of LeGuide means that despite the economic doom it will be ready for what it describes as the next stage in online shopping.

Luca Ascani, president of GoAdv, said the deal would help LeGuide expand in Europe. "Consumers are demanding a much more social experience where the opinions of the community affect the purchasing decisions of a single individual,” he said.

GoAdv already had an 11.8 per cent stake in LeGuide.

It is offering five GoAdv shares for every six LeGuide shares plus €45 - a nine per cent premium on the three month average price. LeGuide's market cap is €49m, up strongly this year. It has been around since 1998 and claims 5.9m users in France - it operates in 14 European countries in total. ®

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