GUS buys U.S. online shopping comparison company PriceGrabber for $485 million |

GUS buys U.S. online shopping comparison company PriceGrabber for $485 million

LONDON – Retail and financial services group GUS PLC said Wednesday it has bought, a U.S. company that offers online comparison prices for shoppers, for $485 million.GUS purchased PriceGrabber, which provides information on thousands of goods ranging from computers to clothing, via its Experian credit checking business.”As a trusted and preferred comparison shopping destination, has a leading position in a fast-growing market,” said Experian Chief Executive Don Robert.”When combined with the complementary skills, expertise and scale of Experian, in both interactive and marketing, we are very excited about the future growth prospects for”PriceGrabber is the latest shopping comparison site to be snapped up by a much larger company looking for a foothold in the steadily growing field. In deals completed during the summer, Cincinnati-based newspaper publisher E.W. Scripps Co. bought Shopzilla for $570 million and online auctioneer eBay Inc. paid $685 million for owned PriceGrabber, set up in 1999, was used by 17 million unique visitors in November and forecasts sales of $60 million in 2005. Retailers pay a fee every time a customer is directed to their Web site via PriceGrabber.GUS added that Culver City, Calif.-based PriceGrabber – one of a handful of shopping comparison sites in the United States among Yahoo Inc.’s shopping channel, Shopzilla,, Google Inc.’s, NexTag and ShopLocal – has strong growth opportunities.About 49.3 million people visited comparison sites during September, an 8 percent increase from 45.8 million at the same time last year, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, a research firm.PriceGrabber attracted 7.6 million unique U.S. visitors during November, ranking it seventh among online comparison sites, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. The top two comparison sites, and Shopzilla, drew about 20 million unique visitors, Nielsen/NetRatings said.Analysts said the deal was a positive move to boost Experian’s growing interactive offerings.Investec Stockbrockers said the price looked high, but “sales growth means the earnings should grow into the price even before much in the way of synergies.””Experian has made several successful acquisitions over the years, each time in areas adjacent to its core activities,” it added. “It has a good track record of exploiting synergies and there is a high likelihood it will do the same with PriceGrabber.”GUS shares rose 0.9 percent to close at 992 pence ($17.59) on the London Stock Exchange.GUS, which spun off its majority stake in luxury goods retailer Burberry Group PLC on Tuesday, also intends to separate Experian from its remaining retail holdings, the Argos and Homebase chains. However, it is waiting for an improvement in the subdued British retail market.Vail, Colorado

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