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Tech Industry

Net companies caught in acquisition fever

Buyers shell out $2.73 billion in 120 Internet-related acquisitions, according to new research from Webmergers.com.

Buyers shelled out $2.73 billion last month in 120 Internet-related acquisitions, according to new research.

But even though the April figure was the largest in six months, the increased activity was tied mostly to Ameritrade's $1.3 billion purchase of Datek Online last month, according to a study from Webmergers.com, a company that researches Internet and technology mergers and acquisitions.

The April figure was up 75 percent from March and 37 percent from February, but fell short of the November 2001 figure, the previous high, when nearly $3 billion was spent to scoop up 84 companies.

In terms of volume, the 120 deals marked the third-highest number of announcements in the past 16 months.

Deals in the Internet infrastructure area, which is made up of companies that offer services and tools to build Web sites, accounted for $611 million for 69 Web properties. The unions between finance sites propelled the 20 deals in the Web portal sector to total $1.62 billion.

Activity in the Internet consulting industry was the highest since May 2001 with $352 million spent to buy 17 properties. Internet consulting company Divine announced in April its $88 million agreement to purchase Viant, an e-business consulting company whose stock closed above $59 a share in 1999 and now trades a little above $1.

In an earlier study this month, Webmergers noted that the number of shutdowns or bankruptcies in the Internet industry was lower than last year. Between January and the end of April, 66 Web companies closed their doors or declared bankruptcy. That compares with the 220 companies that met a similar fate during the first four months of 2001.

In all, 835 Web sites have closed shop or have declared bankruptcy since January 2000. Sites targeting consumer audiences sustained the most damage, accounting for 51 percent, or 423 of the companies that failed.