Tuenti looks like it will go to Telefonica for $99 million

Back in May we reported a rumor that Telefonica was in talks to acquire Tuenti, the ‘Spanish Facebook’, for €80 million” ($104 million). At least that was the buzz around the Spanish blogosphere. Tuenti vehemently denied it at the time but it looks like the bloggers were right.

According to Spanish news site Expansion, the two sides have “virtually sealed the deal” whereby Telefonica will take 90% of the share capital of Tuenti, valuing the company at around €75 million or close to $99 million. In October 2008, Qualitas Equity Partners paid €9.5 million for 17% of Tuenti, which valued it at €55.88 million.

There is further confirmation from Martin Varsavsky, founder of FON who has been informally advising the company, who repeats the Expansion story and adds that “all shareholders of Tuenti but management sold all their shares to Telefonica.” He also says Tuenti will remained independent. Whether 20-something CEO Zaryn Dentzel stays on remains to be confirmed.

The transaction makes sense. In November 2008 Telefonica Mobiles launched a multi-platform social network, Keteke but this flopped against the mighty Tuenti.

Telefonica needed a way back in to social, so it can’t have missed that Tuenti had launched TuentiSMS with Vodafone, a service for social network addicts, allowing them to receive SMS messages notifying users of profile activity (comments, messages, friend invites).