LIBERTY SURF ACQUIRES PROPERTIES FROM IBAZAR
PARIS — Liberty Surf, the French provider of free Internet access, announced Friday that it had bought several Internet properties from French auction Web site and Internet group iBazar — Chez.com, Ecila.com, Francemail.com and Carte.fr — in exchange for 2.5 million Liberty Surf shares.
Based on Liberty Surf’s closing price Friday of $35.68 per share, the deal is valued at $89.2 million and gives iBazar nearly a 3 percent stake in Liberty Surf.
Chez.com comprises France’s second largest Internet community, Ecila.com is a search engine, Ecila.fr is a free e-mail site, and Carte.fr offers virtual postcards.
“This acquisition will considerably build up the audience of the Liberty Surf group and will rank it among France’s top five most-visited Internet groups, with penetration of 40 percent,” said Liberty Surf officials, in a press statement Friday, citing statistics from NetValue. “The new group should represent more than 130 million pages visited each month.”
Liberty Surf cited synergies inherent in the deal, including the complementary nature of Chez.com and Liberty’s existing cyber-community, Respublica.fr.
Liberty Surf also said Friday that its sales for the first quarter of this year came to $8.5 million. This figure takes into account two weeks of sales for X-Stream, a leading free-access provider in the U.K., which Liberty Surf bought on March 15.
Liberty Surf, publicly traded on the Paris Bourse, is 38 percent owned by Europ@web, the Internet investment vehicle of French luxury baron Bernard Arnault, and 38 percent owned by Kingfisher. Management owns about 7 percent of the shares, while the remainder is publicly traded.