The Times confirmed Wednesday that it is in talks to sell About Group, which includes About.com. It didn’t name the buyer. However, All Things Digital says the buyer is Answers and that they have signed a letter of intent to buy About for about $270 million.
“No definitive agreement has been reached,” The New York Times said in the statement. “The negotiations are ongoing and there can be no assurances that an agreement will be reached or that a transaction will be completed.”
This will be the latest sale of About.com, which the Times, in its own story on the sale, calls an “online research guide.”
Primedia acquired About.com in 2000 for $690 million. Five years later, in 2005, Primedia sold About.com to the New York Times for $410 million. About.com has struggled under the Times ownership. Last month, the Times said it would take a $194.7 million non-cash charge due to the write-down of goodwill at About.com. The unit’s revenue also dropped 8.7% to $25.4 million, the Times said.
And why are we interested in this deal? Answers is backed by Summit Partners and TA Associates. St. Louis-based Answers, which calls itself the “world’s leading Q&A resource,” was founded in 1998. In April 2011, Summit took Answers private in a deal valued at $127 million. The sale was comprised of $100 million in loans and debt, according to SEC filings. Summit injected about $27 million equity for a majority stake in Answers.
Last December, Summit sold a chunk of Answers to TA Associates, which is now Answers’ largest stakeholder.
Answers, this month, announced it had acquired ResellerRatings.
Officials for Answers, TA and Summit couldn’t be reached for comment.
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