Breaking: Meetic Finds A Soulmate, Acquires Match.com's European Operations

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Meetic, the popular European online dating company, announced today that it has agreed to buy the European operations of the IAC-owned Match.com. The news was announced on the blog of Loïc Le Meur, who is a board member of Meetic but will need to resign to leave room for an IAC representative.

IAC will sell 100% of the stock of Match Europe – the entity that houses Match.com’s European operations – for an approximate 27% stake in Meetic, plus a 5 million euro note (which converts to just over $6.33 million). Additional terms of the transaction are not being disclosed.

As Loïc points out, this is somewhat of a boost for the European internet industry, and the transaction is definitely turning Meetic into the default pan-European leader when it comes to online dating; one that will not easily be competed against. I wouldn’t exactly refer to it as ‘making history’ like Loïc does, yet I can’t help but notice Meetic’s tagline in their logo (“Same Game, New Rules”) and wonder if one could possibly find a phrase more appropriate to describe the deal.

From the press release:

Match.com is licensing the Match.com brand for its European operations to Meetic, and Meetic will optimize the two brands on a market-by-market basis. Match.com’s European operations include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Match Europe contributes approximately 13% of Match’s consolidated Operating Income Before Amortization. IAC expects annual run rate synergies to be at least 15 million Euros, though it will take a significant transition period before Meetic is able to fully realize them.

According to French newspaper Le Monde, Meetic had revenues of 153,7 million euros (close to $195 million) in 2008 and currently counts over 696,400 registered users. The company is public and listed on NYSE Euronext, currently valued at nearly 228 million euro ($289 million).

Acquisitions Meetic has made in the past to grow in Europe include eFriendsNet, Lexa, ParPerfeito, DatingDirect, Cleargay and Neu.

Meanwhile, IAC says Match.com will continue to operate all U.S.-based and remaining international operations, spanning 24 countries, 8 languages and five continents. This means that Match.com will no longer be competing against Meetic in Europe, but they’ll still be battling for ground in Latin America, the only continent where the companies both have a presence as of now. The IAC subsidiary also got a change at the helm: Greg Blatt, currently IAC’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel, has been named the new CEO of Match.com.

(Coverage in French on TechCrunch France)

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