NBC Universal snaps up iVillage website for $600m

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The Independent Online

NBC Universal, the owner of Universal Studios, has become the latest media group to make a big-money acquisition of an internet content company, paying $600m (£340m) for iVillage, a women's website.

The deal gives NBC access to an online audience of 14.2 million visitors a month and allows it to tailor online content that dovetails with lifestyle programmes on its television channels.

The acquisition values iVillage at more than 60 times last year's net income, but Bob Wright, the chairman of NBC Universal, defended the price. Revenues at iVillage have been growing at 30 per cent a year and that rate is sustainable, he said. "We clearly think we can maintain that, and that is why the pricing is high. They have limited tools to market themselves, and limited resources until now, and we can help there."

Since its creation in 1995, iVillage has established a "large and passionate online community" and every part of NBC would supply content for the site, Mr Wright promised.

NBC's parent company, General Electric, even held out the hope that other branches of the giant conglomerate could benefit. GE Healthcare, which makes medical scanners and tests for disease, could help develop "a customised consumer healthcare experience" for iVillage's health and beauty pages, it said.

IVillage was founded by Candice Carpenter, an executive at the QVC shopping channel, with backing from investors including AOL.

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