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N.Y. Times to buy About.com for $410 million

New York Times Co. plans to expand the Web information portal's content and use the site to market its products.

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By Reuters

The New York Times Co. on Thursday said it will buy online information portal About.com for $410 million from publisher Primedia as it looks for new ways to advertise itself online.

The Times Co., whose newspapers include The New York Times and The Boston Globe, said it will expand About.com's content and visibility and use the site to market its products.

Primedia bought About.com for $690 million in stock in late 2000, as it worked to meld its traditional publishing business with online media. But the publisher struggled to steer About.com through the Internet downturn and noted Thursday that the portal is "completely distinct" from its other Web sites.

About.com provides consumers who search its database with information on topics including health, finances, food and travel.

The Times Co. said it paid a multiple of 23 times About.com's estimated 2005 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

Several media sources had suggested About.com could sell for considerably less than the $410 million paid by The Times Co. The sources named Time Warner, Yahoo, Google and Ask Jeeves as other parties that might take a look at the asset.

Primedia, which is majority owned by private investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, has sold several high-profile magazines and its Sprinks online advertising service in recent years in an effort to whittle itself into a special interest and business-to-business publisher.

Primedia revamped About.com last year after appointing a new chief executive, Peter Horan, to the unit in late 2003. The company noted that the sale of About.com would strengthen its balance sheet.

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