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Diller 'near to' Ask Jeeves buy

Diller 'near to' Ask Jeeves buy

Barry Diller's television and internet firm IAC/InterActiveCorp is close to buying Ask Jeeves for almost $2bn (£1bn).

Ask Jeeves is the fifth most-queried search engine in the US and has a market value of $1.43bn.

Both The Wall St Journal and The New York Times reported that an offer of about $2bn in IAC shares could be announced as early as Monday.

The deal reflects the growing competition between internet search engines.

Lure of online adverts

IAC/InterActive is expected to acquire Ask Jeeves shares in exchange for IAC/InterActive shares, and then spend about $1.2bn buying back 60% of the new shares it has just issued for the exchange.

Mr Dillers's IAC owns, CitySearch and internet dating site,

It is thought that Mr Diller is likely to link CitySearch, a search site for restaurants and other services in cities, with the Ask Jeeves search engine in order to boost internet advertising revenue.

Users of Ask Jeeves can ask questions in plain English, such as: "What is the capital of Brazil?"

Most of the advertising on its site is sold through an arrangement with rival Google. At $1.43bn, its market value is less than one tenth of IAC's.

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