ITV has sold Friends Reunited to Brightsolid Ltd for £25m - four years after buying the social networking site in a £175m deal.

Brightsolid runs, which operates the official 1901 and 1911 census websites, and is owned by DC Thomson, publisher of the Beano comics.

ITV has been openly seeking a buyer for Friends Reunited since earlier this year. Once a bright upstart of the UK social networking market, Friends Reunited has been overtaken by the likes of MySpace, Facebook and Twitter in recent years. However, the site still claims 19 million members and also offers online dating, family tree, Bingo and shopping services.

ITV acquired Friends Reunited for £120m in 2005, and was due to pay an additional £55m this year depending on the performance of the site.

Friendsreunited sale

The deal to sell the site was completed at 5.01am this morning, according to ITV chairman Michael Grade. Grade, who is due to step down from the role by the end of the year, said the current management team could not be blamed for the huge loss ITV made on the deal, telling The Times: "This management team did not buy it, let's be very clear about that."

Grade said the market had "changed dramatically" since 2005, and insisted £25m "was the best price we could get".

The Friends Reunited sale will help ITV achieve its cost-cutting goals - the broadcaster aims to deliver savings of £155m this year and £285m a year by 2011.

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