J2 Global buys PCMag.com owner for $167 million

Mon Nov 12, 2012 1:48pm EST

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(Reuters) - Web-based communication services provider j2 Global Inc (JCOM.O) acquired Ziff Davis Inc, the owner of websites such as PCMag.com and Geek.com, for about $167 million as it looks to new online services to supplement its core business.

Ziff Davis, which emerged from bankruptcy in July 2009, is now owned by its CEO Vivek Shah, a former Time Inc executive who bought the company in 2010 with the backing of Boston private equity firm Great Hill Partners.

Ziff Davis, which is more than eight decades old and was once known for its hobbyist, elite magazines, now hosts popular websites for technology buffs that have reviews, news and deals for gadgets.

J2, whose services allow customers retrieve email, faxes, and voicemail from a single phone line, has been boosting its offerings through acquisitions and has made at least five buys this year, including Ziff.

"They are in the process of trying to expand their product wings beyond fax," said FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives.

"This acquisition represents a nice tangential growth opportunity for j2, as the company looks to expand its marketing and cloud services segment over the coming years," he said.

Ives, who reckons the purchase price is a fair one, said Ziff's websites could provide j2 with a platform to market their main fax retrieval service.

The deal, which j2 will fund with cash on hand, is expected to add to its earnings immediately and contribute about $60 million to the company's revenue in 2013.

J2 raised its 2012 revenue outlook and now expects sales to exceed the top end of its previous outlook range of $345 million to $365 million.

The company's shares were up 3 percent at $30.24 on the Nasdaq on Monday afternoon.

(Reporting by Sayantani Ghosh and Aurindom Mukherjee in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das, Maju Samuel)

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