Networking site Ecademy looks for new owner

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The Independent Online

Ariadne Capital, the boutique corporate adviser run by Dragons' Den online judge Julie Meyer, is believed to have been asked to sell Ecademy, the business networking site.

The management-owned company, founded in 1998, wants to find a parent that will help it to grow the business further. An offer for the business was declined at the turn of the year, but that kicked off plans to sell.

"There isn't a formal auction process, but Ariadne is in the market talking to some prospective buyers," said a technology sector source. "It could fetch as much as £50m and a sale is expected by the summer."

Ecademy is not the only social networking site up for sale. ITV has hired investment bank Lazard to sell Friends Reunited, which the media giant bought for £175m in 2005. It is feared that Friends Reunited might be worth less than a quarter of that amount today, as it has struggled against rivals such as Facebook.

Entrepreneurs can secure up to £50,000 investment from the online version of Dragons' Den, the popular BBC2 show.