NEW YORK (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp. (MSFT.O), the world’s largest software maker, is a contender to buy Internet advertising firm 24/7 Real Media Inc. TFSM.O for as much as $1 billion, the New York Post reported on Tuesday.
Shares in 24/7 Real Media surged more than 28 percent in premarket trading to $12.75 from a close of $9.95 on Monday following the Post report, which cited unnamed sources.
24/7 Real Media and Microsoft could not immediately be reached for comment.
The newspaper reported last month that WPP Group Plc (WPP.L), the world’s second-largest advertising company, was also a suitor for 24/7 Real Media. At the time, analysts had estimated the company could be valued as high as $600 million.
Online advertising companies have become a new focus for takeover activity since Web search leader Google Inc. (GOOG.O) announced a $3.1 billion deal to purchase Internet marketer DoubleClick Inc.
Rival Yahoo Inc. YHOO.O said this week it would buy the remaining 80 percent it doesn’t own in Right Media Inc. for about $680 million. Right Media provides direct marketing advertising to social networks and other large online audiences.