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Experian Acquires Comparison-Shopping Site

The financial services vendor's $485 million purchase of PriceGrabber.com is expected to yield a new line of business for the firm.
Credit and financial services company Experian on Wednesday said it has acquired PriceGrabber.com for $485 million, the latest big-money purchase of a popular comparison-shopping site.

Privately held PriceGrabber.com will become part of the Experian Interactive group, which includes LowerMyBills.com and several other Internet-marketing businesses. The purchase was funded through Experian parent company GUS Plc., which is based in the United Kingdom.

PriceGrabber.com offers online shoppers the ability to compare prices for products across multiple retailers. The 9,000 merchants listed with PriceGrabber.com pay the company each time a shopper clicks through to their sites. In November, the site attracted more than 17 million unique visitors, the company said.

For 2005, PriceGrabber.com estimates sales of $60 million, a 50 percent increase over last year.

The acquisition is the latest involving price-comparison sites, which are growing in popularity among consumers. In June, online marketplace EBay Inc. agreed to pay $620 million for Shopping.com, and E. W. Scripps Co. bought Shopzilla for $525 million.

Experian, based in Costa Mesa, Calif., said the acquisition fits its global strategy of buying complementary businesses that can provide new products, new data or entry into vertical or regional markets.

"We are very excited about the future growth prospects of combining PriceGrabber.com with Experian's interactive and marketing businesses," Don Robert, chief executive officer of Experian Group, said in a statement.

PriceGrabber.com is expected to strengthen Experian's retail and catalog shopping business, which is the company's second largest vertical market. The shopping site is expected to give Experian's retail and catalog clients another channel to reach consumers.

Other potential benefits include the use of PriceGrabber.com to generate more traffic at low cost to Experian Interactive Web sites, Experian officials said. In addition, Experian data and analytics can be used to improve the likelihood of purchases by customers sent to retailers' Web sites from PriceGrabber.com.

Experian plans to retain all of PriceGrabber.com's employees and management. The Los Angeles-based company has 140 employees.