By Mark Sweney: DC Thomson has no plans to scrap or sell any of newly acquired sites and plans to integrate them with its own businesses. Friends Reunited’s 60 staff will all keep their jobs under the new owner, with the Beano publisher planning to launch an over-50s dating service to appeal to users of its genealogy business Findmypast.com.
DC Thomson, which yesterday acquired Friends Reunited from ITV for £25m, has also admitted that it has approached the Office of Fair Trading in a bid to gain clearance for the deal, which will see two of the three biggest online subscription genealogy businesses in the UK merge.
Brightsolid, the DC Thomson subsidiary that runs Find My Past, plans to integrate Friends Reunited’s social networking, dating and genealogy operations with its own businesses. It has no plans to scrap or sell any of the Friends Reunited operations.
One of the first plans under consideration is the launch of a Friends Reunited dating service specifically targeting the over-50s. Friends Reunited has traditionally attracted an older demographic that has the potential to fit in with the generally older users of Find My Past. Its Genes Reunited site takes a much more mass-market approach than Find My Past, which is used by more “hardcore” genealogy buffs.
Brightsolid has referred the deal to the Office of Fair Trading because it the company about 50% of the UK online paid-for genealogy market. The other main player in the UK is US giant Ancestry.com.
However, the company does not expect there to be issues as the 50% share is of a very niche market sector when the wider world of free family history resources is considered.
The Brightsolid chief executive, Chris van der Kuyl, said that all 60 Friends Reunited employees would be kept on as the staffing numbers had been factored in as part of the deal with ITV (LSE: ITV). Brightsolid employs 75 staff of its own.
He added that when his company started looking at buying Friends Reunited it had “no genuine interest” in the social networking or dating side of the business. However, when synergies between DC Thomson’s digital portfolio and regional publishing business were taken into account, van der Kyl said that an “opportunity presented itself to get amazing assets”.
“What we have paid is an absolutely fair and reasonable price, it is good value,” he added. “We considered whether or not to go back to ITV with interesting ways to value the business, like an earnout or equity. But we didn’t for two reasons: one, we have a cash-rich shareholder; and two, listening to ITV they preferred a ‘clean deal’.”
This article originally appeared in Â© Guardian News & Media Ltd..