* TicketMonster largest daily deal company in S.Korea
* Acquisition is LivingSocial's ninth in past year
(Adds background on acquisition, IPO, quotes)
SEOUL Aug 2 LivingSocial agreed to buy South
Korean online daily deal provider TicketMonster in a stock-swap
to expand further into the Asian market, the companies said on
Tuesday, without disclosing the value of the deal.
The acquisition is LivingSocial's largest to date and comes
as the No. 2 U.S. daily deal player steps up overseas
competition with Groupon, the biggest company in the sector.
Groupon, which filed for a $750 million initial public
offering earlier this year, has done at least 13 acquisitions
since May 2010. It started its international expansion that
month with the purchase of CityDeal, a big European daily deal
In its IPO filing, Groupon said it earned more than half
its first-quarter revenue overseas and expects that to grow as
it expands outside the United States.
LivingSocial has made nine acquisitions in the past year,
including TicketMonster, South Korea's largest online daily
deal provider. Other deals include the purchases of InfoEther,
Let's Bonus, SocialMedia, Jump On It, Urban Escapes and
GoNabbit. The company is part owned by Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O),
the largest Internet retailer.
"It's part of our repertoire and it's a skill set that
we're good at," LivingSocial chief executive Tim O'Shaughnessy
told Reuters in an interview last week.
In June, LivingSocial bought Ensogo, a leading deal website
in Thailand and the Philippines, along with DealKeren, an
Ensogo company based in Indonesia.
"LivingSocial is playing catch-up a little with Groupon
overseas," said Peter Krasilovsky, a vice president and program
director BIA/Kelsey, which tracks the daily deal industry.
LivingSocial has a large hoard of cash and is spending it
on marketing and acquisitions for rapid expansion.
"This probably should help them as they move towards an
IPO," he added.
LivingSocial is meeting with banks to discuss an IPO of
about $1 billion, according to a source familiar with the
Expansion in Asia might be attractive because so many
people own cellphones, Krasilovsky added.
Daily deals are usually distributed via email, but Groupon
and LivingSocial launched so-called instant deal businesses
this year. These use location information from cellphones to
send discount offers from local businesses instantly to
TicketMonster recently launched a location-based service
called TMON NOW.
South Korea's online daily deal industry, which offers
consumers discounts for local businesses, is nascent but
growing fast, with a number of players, including Groupon,
joining to take advantage of the country's high Internet
There are more than 500 online daily deal providers in
South Korea, according to a spokeswoman at TicketMonster.
TicketMonster, which opened in May last year and has 600
employees, tops South Korea's online daily deal sector with
around 45 percent of the market and reported transactions worth
100 billion won ($95.2 million) in the first half of this year,
the spokeswoman said.
"LivingSocial ... plans to partner with TicketMonster for
expansion in Korea and other Asian markets for the long term,"
TicketMonster said in a statement, adding the deal was subject
to regulatory approval in South Korea.
($1 = 1050.400 Korean Won)
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin and Alistair Barr; editing by
Jonathan Hopfner and Andre Grenon)