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Go Daddy on the block for $2.5bn

Going once, going twice ...

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Domain names and web hosting provider Go Daddy is reportedly on the verge of being acquired by private investors for up to $2.5bn.

The New York Post reported that a group led by Silver Lake Partners and KKR & Co plans to buy the closely held company for $1bn. The Associated Press later put the price tag at between $2bn and $2.5bn.

An official announcement of the deal could come as soon as tomorrow, these reports said.

Based in Scottsdale, Arizona, Go Daddy has sold more domain names than any other company and owns about half of the market, as well as good-sized chunks of the web hosting and SSL spaces.

The company has approaching 50 million domain names under management and has issued about 500,000 active SSL certificates.

It is best known in the US for its saucy TV commercials, which often featured busty models in skimpy clothing, as well as for the antics of its ever-quotable CEO, Bob Parsons, who's a regular talking head on cable news programmes.

Go Daddy filed to go public in 2006, but withdrew its IPO at the eleventh hour due to poor market conditions, accounting frustrations, and because Parsons said he found the pre-offering quiet period "suffocating".

It was also rumoured to be on the auction block in September last year, with a price tag around the $1bn mark, but those talks did not immediately result in a deal.

Go Daddy is likely to be in great demand over the coming years, given the forthcoming expansion to the domain name system approved by industry overseer ICANN last Monday.

Due to its huge market share, competition for shelf space in Go Daddy's store will be fierce among new domain registries, a situation ripe for exploitation. ®

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