Turns out IAC (NSDQ: IACI) isn't ready for commitment. The New York-based Ask.com operator is selling its dating site Match.com's European business to French rival Meetic. Still, it's a sweet kind of pre-nup to be formed in the week after Valentine's Day - IAC is getting 5 million ($6.34 million) and a 27 percent stake of the buyer; Meetic is getting one of the most powerful brand names in online dating.
Match.com operates in 15 European countries, which together comprise 13 percent of Match.com's overall income. The pair reckon they can eventually save 15 million ($19 million) a year in synergies. Meetic posted 113.8 million ($100.9 million) revenue in 2007. After IAC CEO Barry Diller in November hinted at off-loading "emerging" businesses - which includes TheDailyBeast and CollegeHumor - the company sold ReserveAmerica to The Active Network in a stock swap, comedy news site 236.com to Huffington Post and its stake in a Japanese shopping channel to Sumitomo. Diller, in today's release, said giving Match.com to Meetic "represents a great opportunity to unite two established leaders in the field to serve a growing population of online daters in Europe".
Meetic CEO and founder Marc Simoncini, in the release, said the pair will "complement" each other. But that language is a far cry from a couple of years back, when he likened their rivalry to "war" and criticised Match.com: "It's the French vision against the Texan vision ... They promise you to be married in six months, which for a French guy or a Spanish guy or an Italian is crazy" (via BBC News). Simoncini has been steadily building Meetic's UK presence - in 2007, Meetic bought DatingDirect.
By Robert Andrews