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Gannett Grabs PointRoll; Offline Media Buying Up Net Players

USA Today publisher Gannett announced Friday that it has acquired the stock of rich media marketer PointRoll - the latest example of offline publishers dipping their toes further into online waters. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but according to various sources the purchase price was more than $100 million. Chris Saridakis, PointRoll's COO, becomes its CEO. Jules Gardner, PointRoll's founder and CEO, announced he is leaving the company. PointRoll has been on the block since the beginning of the year.

This year, the public acquisitions of internet firms by traditional media players has totaled more than $1 billion thus far, more than double the amount for all of last year, reports the Financial times. The merger and acquisition deals have come amid forecasts of continued strong growth in online advertising, particularly linked to search. Bankers said they were expecting another 10 deals this year, to add to the nine already announced. They said most media groups are seeking small internet companies to capture some of online's growth potential.

Among the latest example, last week Scripps announced that it would purchase comparison-shopping site Shopzilla for $550 million, and the New York Times bought About.com for $440 million earlier this year.

However, the public deals apparently don't form a complete picture, because many of the sales have been private. According to Thomson Financial data, there were three public transactions valued at $943m this year, but six other private ones. "Pre-IPO companies will fuel a lot of the future M&A. It has become more difficult to take a company public, with enormous regulatory requirements," according to a senior media banker quoted by the Financial Times.

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