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Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch snaps up TicketWeb

Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch Inc. (Nasdaq: TMCS) said Tuesday it had bought privately-held TicketWeb Inc. in an all-stock deal worth $35.2 million. The deal expands the company's move into ticketing for local activities and events.

Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch, which operates the Web site and CitySearch network of local city guides, will issue more than 2 million shares, or about 2 percent of its outstanding stock, in the transaction.

Shares of Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch closed Friday at 15 1/4. The company topped estimates, but reported losses in its first quarter. The company's 1999 acquisition of the city guide business of Microsoft's Sidewalk gobbled up its main competitor and doubled its coverage.

TicketWeb will becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch, which is majority-owned by USA Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: USAI). TicketWeb will maintain its separate brand, business model and staff.

Earlier this year, CitySearch kicked-off its entry into ticketing for small and medium facilities with its acquisition of museum and cultural events ticketer 2b Technologies Inc.

TicketWeb, which has about 700 customers, including New York's Bowery Ballroom and the San Diego Zoo, will also add its browser-based ticketing software to CitySearch's offerings.

Founded in 1995, TicketWeb was one of the Internet's first Application Service Providers (ASPs). Its remotely hosted software allows clients to add or remove events from sale, manage ticket inventory, pull reports and print tickets from a standard PC.

As a result of this combination, TicketMaster Online-CitySearch can provide ticketing services for nearly any local activity, including those with reserved seating, the company said.

Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch's top competitors include America Online's (NYSE: AOL) Digital Cities site, (Nasdaq: TIXX), and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT).

The company reported a first quarter net loss of $48.6 million, or 57 cents a share, on sales of $46.5 million. Of the company's sales, ticketing brought in the most revenue at $28.6 million. Sales related to the company's local city guides were $14.4 million with advertising making up the remainder.

In the quarter, Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch recorded an estimated 765 million page views, up 21.5 percent sequentially.