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CNET to buy shopping service, expand offerings

The firm says it will acquire mySimon, a Web-based comparison shopping service, and will change its corporate name to CNET Networks to reflect its expansion into new business areas.

CNET said today that it is acquiring shopping service mySimon for about $700 million in stock and will change its corporate name to CNET Networks to reflect the company's expansion into new business.

CNET, which publishes, will exchange 11.3 million shares of common stock, valued at roughly $700 million as of yesterday's closing price of $62.68, for mySimon. The transaction is expected to close by the end of this quarter.

San Francisco-based CNET said the addition of mySimon, which provides a service that searches thousands of online stores to allow consumers to comparison-shop for a broad array of items, will allow it to expand its shopping services to 250 product categories and more than 2,600 merchants and advertisers.

"We have proven that we can build a profitable business out of linking buyers and sellers of technology products. In the future, the company that will be most important to e-commerce will be the one that enables the truly informed purchase decision in every category," CNET chief executive Halsey Minor said in a statement.

The name change reflects CNET's expansion and growth of additional brands, the company said. will continue to focus on computers and technology, while mySimon will maintain its own brand, management team and staff, CNET said.

CNET has gained experience at providing consumers with the information they need to make buying decisions, and will share what it has learned with mySimon to help expand the shopping site, Minor said in a conference call later in the day. In addition to the site's shopping comparison engine, it could soon have product reviews and other editorial content, he said.

Minor compared CNET's acquisition of mySimon to Turner Broadcasting's expansion from its original TBS network into a whole suite of cable properties, including TNT and CNN. Similarly, CNET plans to move beyond and mySimon into a number of other networks in the future, Minor said.

"We're going to leverage our core infrastructure and knowledge across multiple brands," Minor said. "We're doing what media companies do as they mature: They get larger and they develop more properties."