The Deal
Wednesday, July 23, 
2:02 pm

by Carolyn Murphy
[Posted on January 31, 2008 - 9:47 AM]

Online retailing giant Amazon.com Inc. said Thursday, Jan. 31, it will buy Audible Inc. , an online audiobook retailer, in a deal valued at about $300 million.

Under terms of the deal, Audible shareholders will receive $11.50 per share, a 23% premium over Wednesday closing price of $9.33.

Amazon said the deal includes Audible's cash and short-term investments and the assumption of the company's outstanding stock-based awards as well.

"This deal brings together two pioneering companies that share a long history of ceaseless focus on improving the customer experience," Donald Katz, founder and chief executive of Audible.com, said in a statement.

Seattle-based Amazon expects the purchase to expand its capabilities in digital audio content and enable it to bring Audible's content to a broader audience.

Newark, N.J.-based Audible.com offers more than 80,000 programs including audiobooks and spoken-word audio content from news outlets including The New York Times and The New Yorker.

And the statement noted that Amazon itself in recent months has announced a number of innovations in the digital space, including Amazon Kindle, a wireless portable reader that provides instant wireless downloads of more than 90,000 books, blogs, magazines and newspapers to a high-resolution electronic paper display.

The company anticipates the deal will be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2008.

But it remains to be seen how investors worried about the slowing economy will react to Amazon's purchase. The company's shares fell $7.72, or 10.4%, to $66.49 in premarket trading.

The company said late Wednesday that its fourth-quarter profit more than doubled and forecast strong sales growth for the coming year, but gave operating income guidance below Wall Street expectations.

Amazon has launched several new businesses in the last year, including online stores selling downloads of music, TV shows and movies that, in many cases, offer prices below that of rivals, including the popular iTunes online store offered by Apple Inc.

Earlier this month Amazon's Internet Movie Database (IMDB) unit announced that it acquired Without A Box, a provider of online festival submission and promotional services for independent filmmakers. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The company also operates Film Finders, an aggregator and seller of independent film data. IMDB attracts over 50 million unique visitors monthly to its site, which features a database of over 1 million movies, TV and entertainment programs, streaming trailers and message boards.


Comments
From: Yakov,

Today in Russia, RBC bought into digital content business. It's much smaller deal but still..


From: Olaf de Senerpont Domis,

Thanks for the head's up. RBC has been gathering up some interesting companies, including an Internet banking platform and an online dating service. Wonder what they're up to?

Olaf de Senerpont Domis
West Coast bureau chief
Tech Confidential/The Deal


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