AOL to buy social network Bebo for $850 mil

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NEW YORK -- Time Warner's AOL has agreed to acquire global social network Bebo, which has a total membership of more than 40 million worldwide, for $850 million in cash.

The company is one of the leading online social networking providers in the U.K. and is the top-ranked network in Ireland and New Zealand. It says it is No. 3 in the U.S.

Bebo said Thursday its users view an average of 78 pages per usage day.

AOL said that Bebo's offers fit in with its existing services, such as AIM.

"Bebo is the perfect complement to AOL's personal communications network and puts us in a leading position in social media," chairman and CEO Randy Falco said. "This positions us to offer advertisers even greater reach and marketers significant insights into the desires and needs of consumers."

The deal is the latest in an AOL spending spree. The company said it has spent nearly $1 billion on online advertising acquisitions, including of such companies as AdTech, buy.at, Lightningcast, Quigo, Tacoda and Third Screen Media.

Bebo also bolsters AOL's international growth. It has launched 17 international Web sites over the last year and plans to expand to 30 countries outside the U.S. by the end of 2008.

Bebo was founded by Michael and Xochi Birch. It has 11.4 million unique users in the U.K.
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