Friday, May 18, 2007

Ahead of the Bell: Online Advertisers (AP)

NEW YORK — Shares of online advertising company ValueClick Inc. jumped in premarket trading Friday after Microsoft Corp. said it will pay about $6 billion in cash to buy rival aQuantive Inc., a move that could take out yet another online advertising services company.

ValueClick Inc., one of the only companies in the sector that hasn't yet been gobbled up by a search engine operator, jumped $3.65, or 13.1 percent, to $31.53 in the early session.

AQuantive, meanwhile, soared toward the $66.50 purchase price, adding $29.13, or 81.2 percent, to $65 in premarket activity. Microsoft's offer represents an 85 percent premium over the stock's Thursday closing price of $35.87.

In recent, similar deals, WPP Group PLC, the world's second-largest marketing conglomerate, said it would pay $649 million for online advertising company 24/7 Real Media Inc.

Leading search engine operator Google Inc. in mid-April said it would buy DoubleClick Inc. for $3.1 billion, while Yahoo Inc. last month struck a deal to buy the rest of privately held online ad exchange Right Media Inc. Yahoo paid $680 million to take control of the company.

Also in early trading Friday, shares of 24/7 Real Media added 9 cents to $11.74, while shares of Microsoft fell 16 cents to $30.82.

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