Online dating site Match.com has made an offer for the outstanding shares of French dating site Meetic, of which it is already a part owner, the company said on Monday.
Buying a larger share of Meetic is the best way for Match.com to grow in Europe, according to Arnaud Riverain , financial analyst and founder of GreenSome Finance.
Match.com sold its European operations to Meetic in 2009 in return for a 27 percent stake in the company.
Before that deal, Match.com had tried to grow on its own, but didn't succeed that well, Riverain said.
Match.com will offer €15 (US$21) in cash for each Meetic share, a premium of about 11.6 percent on Friday's closing price, it said. The deal values Meetic at about €347 million.
Learning from the work Meetic has done, Match.com hopes to boost growth at its U.S. operations, it said. The deal will also offer Meetic new growth opportunities, the French company said.
Match.com expects to file the public offer with the French securities regulator within two to three weeks, it said. But the offer is off to a good start: Meetic's founder and Chairman Marc Simoncini has entered into a binding agreement to sell approximately 3.7 million shares, representing around 16 percent of the total number of outstanding shares. He will retain a further 1.6 million shares, and intends to remain on Meetic's Board, according to Match.com.
Last year, Simoncini tried to sell his stake in Meetic, but wasn't able to find a good enough offer.
Match.com's offer is not subject to a minimum tender condition, so is not dependent on approval from a percentage of shareholders to go through. Match.com intends to maintain Meetic's stock market listing following completion of the deal.
Today, Match.com operates online dating sites in 25 countries, while Meetic operates in 16, all in Europe.
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