Microsoft is paying $486 million for Greenfield Online, which runs an Internet survey businesss and Ciao, a European comparison shopping engine. Redmond plans on immediately selling off the survey business to an unnamed buyer. From one of two releases Microsoft put out to explain the deal:
Ciao is a comprehensive source for intelligent shopping on the web, combining consumer reviews and ratings from a multimillion-user-strong online community with up-to-date price information from thousands of online merchants. It currently has more than 26.5 million unique visitors per month (source: comScore Inc, May 2008) across seven countries, who so far have generated more than 5 million product reviews.
The acquisition signals a further milestone investment for Microsoft in Europe and will see Microsoft increase its European commercial search capabilities as part of its intent to make Microsoft Live Search the premier destination for consumers looking to research and purchase goods and services online, as well as enable merchants to drive greater online sales.
Greenfield had already agreed to sell itself for about 13% less than Microsoft’s price to private equity powerhouse Quadrangle; it will have to pay Quadrangle a $5 million breakup fee to wriggle out of the deal.
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