Belfast Telegraph

Billion-dollar Bebo sold for just $10m

By Douglas MacMillan

Bebo, the social networking website that was bought for nearly a billion dollars two years ago, has been sold for less than $10m (£6.8m).

AOL, the internet giant, sold Bebo to private equity group Criterion Capital Partners for less than 2% of the $850m (£574m) it paid for the site in March 2008.

Although details of the sale were not released, it is widely thought the price paid was less than $10m. AOL said it expects to record a tax benefit this quarter of $275m to $325m from the sale.

New York-based AOL said on April 6 it was weighing a sale or shutdown of Bebo, which flopped in the US.

The company said it wasn’t in a position to fund a turnaround of the website after losing ground to bigger social-networking rivals Facebook and MySpace. The price AOL paid for Bebo in 2008 included $766m of goodwill, according to regulatory filings.

AOL will treat the common stock of Bebo as “worthless” for tax purposes.

Bebo’s worldwide unique visitors plunged more than 50% to 12.6 million in April from a year ago, according to analysts. Facebook had 519.1 million unique visitors in April. MySpace drew 111.2 million.

“Criterion Capital Partners are specialists in facilitating growth plans and turnarounds,” AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong said yesterday in a memo to employees.

Belfast Telegraph