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USA Interactive snaps up coupon seller

Media magnate Barry Diller's USA Interactive continues its push to infuse the Net into traditional businesses, announcing it's acquiring Entertainment Publications for $370 million.

USA Interactive on Thursday said it will acquire coupon book seller Entertainment Publications for $370 million.

The acquisition falls in line with USA Interactive's ongoing efforts to infuse the Internet into traditional businesses. In this case, the company plans to sell Entertainment Publications' travel, dining and shopping coupons electronically through its various e-commerce sites such as CitySearch, Expedia and Hotels.com.

USA Interactive has been acquiring businesses to expand its e-commerce reach for years. Many of its higher-profile deals included Ticketmaster and popular online dating site Match.com. The company last quarter reported cash earnings of $65.7 million on revenue of $1.2 billion, largely from strong transactional sales from its various e-commerce sites.

"This new project totally fits within our strategy to be the leader in both size and profitability in electronic commerce," USA Interactive CEO Barry Diller said in a statement.

Under Thursday's deal, USA Interactive will pay $370 million in cash and up to 50 percent in stock to The Carlyle Group, a private equity firm that is the majority investor in Entertainment Publications. The deal will pump an extra $233 million in revenue and $49 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) into USA Interactive's 2003 earnings.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year, pending regulatory approval. Entertainment Publications' management team will continue to run the company.