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Amazon buys stake in Net catalog company

The e-tailer spends $5 million in stock to buy the stake in Altura International, though similar moves in the past have not always been fruitful.

Amazon.com said Friday it shelled out $5 million to take a stake in a privately held company that builds and manages online shopping malls.

Seattle-based Amazon issued 717,316 shares of its common stock to buy the stake in Monterey, Calif.-based Altura International. Shares of Amazon closed at $6.97 Thursday.

Altura operates CatalogCity.com, and uses its software to help other companies run online stores. It also has deals with luxury goods and gift retailers including J. Jill, Hammacher Schlemmer, Harry & David and Ross-Simons.

As part of the deal, CatalogCity merchants will be featured on Amazon's site, and Amazon's products will be available through CatalogCity.

Amazon has a history of making investments in smaller dot-coms, but the deals have not always been fruitful. The company recently wrote off $41 million of its investments in Webvan, Sotheby's Holdings, WeddingChannel.com, Ashford and Drugstore.com. Webvan went out of business back in July.