NBC Universal to buy iVillage for $600 million

The media conglomerate plans to use the online women's network to expand its digital operations.

Media conglomerate NBC Universal announced Monday that it plans to acquire iVillage, a women's Web site and publisher, in a cash deal valued at approximately $600 million.

NBC Universal, which includes the NBC television network and Universal film studio, will pay iVillage investors $8.50 per share, a 6.5 percent premium to iVillage's closing price of $7.98 per share on Friday. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter.

The deal marks the latest media company to snap up an Internet operation, as an increasing number of advertisers shift their dollars to online media. NBC Universal said it plans to use this acquisition as a way to broaden its digital strategy.

"iVillage immediately gives us scale and a profitable, established platform to expand our digital efforts, especially in the rapidly growing areas of health and women's interests," Beth Comstock, president of NBC Universal Digital Media and Market Development, said in a statement. "We envision connecting more deeply online, on mobile and on demand with key consumers throughout their various life stages."

In 1998, NBC took a minority stake in iVillage, in a noncash deal that involved the exchange of promotional time on the TV network for a small stake in the Web site.

iVillage, an Internet darling that faced a number of other competitors in the field, such as Women.com, launched its initial public offering with great fanfare in 1999. The stock soared more than threefold, ending its first trading day with a market value of $1.86 billion. But iVillage fell out of favor as the markets cooled and Internet stocks lost their luster in the early 2000 period.

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