Friends Reunited could be sold for £15m

Author: By Graeme Evans, PA

ITV paid an initial £120 million for the business in December 2005, but the
popularity of websites such as Facebook and the slowdown in online
advertising due to the recession has dramatically reduced its value.

The Mail on Sunday said entrepreneur Peter Dubens’ private equity firm Oakley
Capital was in exclusive talks to buy the business for about £15 million.

Mr Dubens has a record of shrewd internet investments, having sold his
consumer and broadband division of Pipex to Tiscali for £210 million in
2007.

ITV put the Friends business up for sale in March, little more than three
years after it bought it for an initial £120 million from founders Steve and
Julie Pankhurst, the husband and wife team who set up the website in 2000.

Under the deal, first announced in December 2005, ITV was due to pay up to £55
million more this year depending on the performance of the business.

The broadcaster wanted to link the website with its ITV.com website in
advertising areas such as dating, recruitment and classifieds.

Friends Reunited delivered around half of ITV’s £36 million online revenues in
2008, but saw its own revenues fall by £4 million over the year due to the
loss of subscription income as the reunions site relaunched on an
advertising-funded basis last May.

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