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iVillage unloads iBaby e-commerce unit

The online women's network plans to sell the business to e-tailer Babygear.com for an undisclosed amount, enabling it to focus on building its core media content.

    Online women's network iVillage today said it will sell its iBaby e-commerce unit to Babygear.com for an undisclosed amount.

    The expected move is designed to help iVillage switch its focus from retailing to building its core media content, as it aims to increase sponsor-based revenue and reach its profitability goal, the company said in a statement.

    As part of the deal, iVillage said it will take an equity stake in online retailer Babygear. The specific terms were not disclosed. iVillage also inked several five-year sponsorship agreements with Babygear whereby the retailer will be featured on iVillage properties such as its home page, parenting and shopping channels, Lamaze print publications and newborns page.

    iVillage is like many other Internet companies that have closed their e-commerce divisions or outsourced their retail operations after realizing the costs and expertise needed to run a retail outfit are great. Last week, Oxygen Media said it is closing two of its shopping-related Web sites--Womenshands, a site for female artisans, and style site Picky, which will be folded into its new shopping information service, Shop 02, set to launch next week.

    New York-based iVillage has also been faced with a recent management shakeout, losing both its chief financial officer and chief operating officer in April.

    In addition to the company's deal with Babygear, iVillage announced it has made changes to its existing agreement with Dan Howard Industries, a maternity manufacturer and retailer. iVillage's iMaternity and PlusBoutique.com online clothing sites will be folded into Dan Howard, which has developed an exclusive relationship with Babygear.