DatingDirect sold for £27m to pan-European rival Meetic

LONDON - DatingDirect.com, which grew to be one of the UK's lasting successes of the dotcom boom, is to be sold to Meetic, the pan-European dating website, in a deal worth £27.3m.

The company, which was set up by internet entrepreneurs Darren Richards and Andrew Pike in 1999, has undergone substantial growth over the last eight years, increasing its membership from an initial 40,000 to more than 4.5m.

Richards, chief executive officer of DatingDirect.com, said: "Our commitment to developing a real opportunity for people to find real relationships has made DatingDirect.com the most popular dating destination in the UK, and now hopefully this will continue into Europe."

Meetic, one of Europe's most popular dating websites according to Nielsen//NetRatings, has operations in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Marc Simoncini, founder and chairman of Meetic, described the acquisition as a chance to allow the company to enter the lucrative UK dating market without the expense of a cross-media ad campaign.

"Thanks to this acquisition we will have conquered in less than five years the leading position on most of the international markets on which we operate."

DatingDirect has extended its service through a number of third-party deals with major media companies. Most recently, it signed a deal with Trinity Mirror to provide dating services through the online editions of the Daily Mirror, The People and the Daily Record.

Previous deals DatingDirect.com has signed include ones with iVillage.co.uk, AOL, ITV.com and Channel 4. It is ranked as the number one personals site in the UK by Nielsen//NetRatings.

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