Liberty Media buys e-commerce provider

Liberty Media Corp. is spending close to half a billion dollars to acquire an online merchant that sells perishable items such as meat, flowers and fresh fruit.

Liberty, which owns QVC Inc. and a majority stake in IAC/InteractiveCorp, reached a definitive agreement to acquire Provide Commerce Inc. for $477 million in cash, the companies said Monday.

With the proposed acquisition, Liberty is seeking to boost its e-commerce business at a time when the consumer Internet market is staging a robust recovery from the dot-com bust of 2000 and 2001.

For example, consumer spending on nontravel goods at U.S. Internet sites is expected to reach $82.7 billion in 2005, an increase of 24% compared with 2004, market research firm comScore Networks Inc. said Sunday.

The Liberty deal, which is subject to approvals from regulatory bodies and from Provide Commerce stockholders, as well to other customary closing conditions, is expected to close in the second quarter of 2006, the companies said.

After the deal closes, San Diego-based Provide Commerce will become a separate subsidiary within Liberty, which is based in Englewood, Colo., the companies said.

Provide Commerce operates the Web sites ProFlowers, Cherry Moon Farms, Uptown Prime and Secret Spoon. Liberty is focused on the electronic retailing, media, communications and entertainment industries.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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