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Overture to buy AltaVista for $140m

Internet search technology company Overture Services has agreed to acquire AltaVista for $140m £88m) in cash and stock.

Overture offers a service in which companies place bids to have their ads displayed among search results at sites operated by Yahoo!, Microsoft's MSN unit and others. Buying AltaVista will help Overture to enhance those commercial services.

Overture also has its eye on the AltaVista Web site, which it will use to test out new search products and marketing services for its advertisers in a "live" setting.

Subject to customary approvals and "certain other conditions," the purchase is expected to close in April and be accretive to Overture's earnings by mid-2004, the company said. The company will pay for AltaVista with Overture common stock valued at $80m plus $60m in cash.

AltaVista's search technology uses algorithms to crawl the Web and track down results for end users. The company offers "paid inclusion" services that ensure that business's websites are included in the results. Overture said it would enhance those services.

AltaVista, established in 1995, was a pioneer in internet search technology. It has about 250 employees worldwide and offers search results in 25 languages. AltaVista is a majority-owned operating company of CMGI.

In November it revamped its service with search tools for consumers and new marketing opportunities for businesses.


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