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AOL buys social network Bebo for $850 million
Written by Daniel   
Thursday, 13 March 2008 11:54
March 13, 2008 5:07 AM PDT
In an unexpected move, AOL has acquired social-networking site Bebo. The price tag: $850 million in cash.
Posted by Caroline McCarthy; C/Net News
Rumors had floated over the past few months that Bebo, which has over 40 million members, was up for sale. Reports suggested a $1 billion price tag, but there were few hints as to potential buyers. Though Bebo had already partnered with AOL's AIM messaging client to facilitate friend-invite interoperability between the two services, even the most creative blogger speculation didn't seem to point to AOL eventually buying the social network.

Ironically, AOL itself has been talked about as an acquisition target. Jeffrey Bewkes, CEO of Time Warner, which operates AOL, has spoken recently about plans to spin off or sell divisions of the company.

AOL has made it clear that buying Bebo is a move geared toward international growth, as the youth-oriented social network is wildly popular in the U.K., Ireland, and New Zealand. AOL reported that it has launched "17 international web sites over the last year and has plans to expand to 30 countries outside the U.S. by the end of 2008," as well as international versions of its home page and some services. Bebo, meanwhile, plans to launch five localized versions of its service this year (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands), and AOL will make it a major part of the company's international expansion strategy.   [C/Net News]    [Comments....]

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