Overture buys Fast search engine in $100m deal

LONDON – A week after pay-for-performance search company Overture paid $140m (£88.9m) for search engine AltaVista, it is back on the acquisition trail with its purchase of the web search unit of Fast Search & Transfer in a deal worth as much as $100m.

The Oslo-based Fast Search & Transfer is a developer of search and real-time filtering technologies and is selling its search unit in a $70m cash deal, with a further $30m in a performance-based cash incentive payment over three years. The deal is expected to close by April.

This acquisition, combined with Overture's plans to buy search engine AltaVista, substantially bolsters its position in the commercial search market. Overture expects to be at the forefront of the industry in offering a full suite of paid placement, paid inclusion and algorithmic web search products and services to syndicate to portals, ISPs and other search destination sites.

At the same time, Overture claims the company's 80,000 advertisers will benefit by gaining access to new products and sources of distribution that will drive additional customer leads.

Ted Meisel, Overture's president and CEO, said: "Search is in a rapid growth phase, which we believe will continue for years to come. Offering a broader, more complete range of products and services to our distribution network and advertisers will allow us to capitalise on that growth and build on the strong competitive advantages we already possess. Combining AltaVista and Fast's web search business provides us with what we believe is the quickest and most cost-effective path to market."

Founded in 1997, Fast has operations in the US, Norway, Germany, the UK and Japan. The acquisition includes Fast Web Search algorithmic search, AlltheWeb.com, and Fast PartnerSite paid inclusion services.

Fast retains usage rights for intellectual property relating to its enterprise search technologies. Fast enterprise search technology is currently deployed to global customers such as CareerBuilder, Dell, FirstGov.gov, Freeserve, IBM and Reed Elsevier.

John Lervik, Fast's chief executive officer, said: "The quality of internet search is a key factor in determining consumer loyalty to a website, and today most sites fail to deliver information seekers with exactly what they are looking for on a consistent basis. At Fast, we have worked hard to perfect world-class technology capable of closing the quality gap in search. The combination of Overture's and Fast's web search business supports our focused strategy of delivering real-time information solutions for global customers."

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