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NBC Universal Acquires Women's Site iVillage

The company is paying $600 million for iVillage, which has more than 14 million unique visitors and covers mostly women's issues ranging from health and entertainment to beauty and style.

NBC Universal on Monday said it has agreed to acquire IVillage Inc. for $600 million in cash, a move expected to increase NBC's online offerings for advertisers looking to reach women.

Under the deal, NBC Universal would pay $8.50 cash per share of New York-based IVillage, which has more than 14 million unique visitors and covers mostly women's issues ranging from health and entertainment to beauty and style. The sale is expected to close in the second quarter, pending shareholder and regulatory approvals.

"We look forward to building on the considerable brand strength iVillage has developed over the past 10 years and to giving our advertising clients new and exciting ways to reach a valuable demographic," Bob Wright, vice chairman and chief executive of NBC Universal, said in a statement.

IVillage is expected to add proprietary content and a consistent user base that "commands premium advertising pricing," NBC Universal said. As a result of the acquisition, the latter company expects to increase its digital revenues to $200 million in 2006, and projects a 20 percent growth rate going forward.

For 2005, revenues were up 30 percent year-over-year, excluding acquisitions, NBC Universal said. Revenues in 2005 were $91 million, compared with $66.9 million in 2004. Net income rose to $9.5 million from $2.8 million.

"IVillage immediately gives us scale and a profitable, established platform to expand our digital efforts, especially in the rapidly growing areas of health and women's interests," Beth Comstock, president of digital media and market development for NBC Universal said in a statement.

IVillage, which will remain in New York, will be under Comstock.

The percentage of women using the Internet has increased over the last several years, but the number still lags slightly behind the percentage of men, according to the Pew/Internet and American Life Project. Women under 30 and black women, however, outpace their male peers.

Men and women, however, are equally likely to use the Internet to buy products, the research firm said in a report released in December.

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