DMGT splashes £46m on dating and classifieds sites

LONDON - Associated Newspapers has strengthened its online business with the £46.5m acquisition of dating website Allegran and Data Media Retail, which owns classified automotive site Carsource.co.uk.

The Daily Mail & General Trust says the two acquisitions will continue its expansion into key areas of the online market, primarily the automotive, dating, jobs and property sectors.

Allegran, which has a portfolio of dating websites, reported revenues of £7.4m last year -- a 160% increase on 2005. The company has a number of high-profile dating websites in its portfolio, including GirlsDateForFree.com and LoopyLove.com.

Associated has also acquired a 62.5% stake in Data Media & Retail, and has agreed a three-year earnout with its management to buy the remaining stake. DMR owns a number of car classified portals, including Carsource.co.uk.

The combined valuation of the acquisitions is £46.5m, with initial payment set at £32.5m. Associated expects both acquisitions to generate profit before amortisation in DMGT's current financial year.

The acquisitions follow last week's merger of Associated New Ventures and Northcliffe Electronic Publishing to form Associated Northcliffe Digital.

Andy Hart, managing director of Associated Northcliffe Digital, said: "Online dating is an area of huge growth potential and Allegran is a very profitable business and one of the biggest UK players, with highly successful dating websites catering for a number of segments within the market. 

"This investment is consistent with Associated Northcliffe Digital's stated strategy of establishing a powerful portfolio of online media assets -- as previously evidenced by recent acquisitions in recruitment and property.  The Allegran management team are specialists in what they do and have the capabilities, technology and ambition to continue to take the business from strength to strength."

DMGT has been buying up online classified businesses, including property website Prime Location in December for £48m and two recruitment websites, Top-Consultant.com and Officerecruit.co.uk, in August.

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