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Love Mergers and Acquisitions, UK's biggest classified ads service after Gumtree, acquired by online retailer Hut Group

By Angela Haggerty, Reporter

March 28, 2014 | 3 min read

Moo, the owner of second hand classified ads service, has been acquired by the Hut Group for an undisclosed sum.

Acquisition: A bid from the Hut Group as successful

The Chesire-based online retail group - which operates across the lifestyle, health and beauty sectors - was one of six companies to table bids for the company after interest was expressed by 42 potential buyers. The acquisition process was managed by international advisor BCMS.

Steve Martson, BCMS deal leader, said interest in buying Moo was higher than average and explained that it was the website’s traffic and relationship with its users which made the acquisition of the classified ads business attractive to the Hut Group.

“It’s the second biggest classified website in the country, only behind Gumtree. It’s really the traffic that goes through it that was of the most interest to a great many of the buyers," he told The Drum.

“All the interest was either from similar sites which wanted to drive traffic to their own sites or, in the case of the buyer, they were interested in the high level of data capture on the site’s members and what they could drive to their own retail websites.

“Preloved users have to become members, to the service has a great deal of information about its users – sex, age, location, email address, telephone number etc, which is valuable to any retailer.”

Preloved was founded by Ian Buzer in 1997 as a part-time project and now pulls in around 15 million page views per month. The service has 1.7 million active users bringing in around 100 million page impressions per month.

Marston added: “Recent high profile web technology acquisitions by Google, Facebook and other dominant industry players are an indicator of a wider trend towards vibrant M&A activity in digital markets.”

The Hut Group invested in a new division in 2011, Technology Services, which focuses on providing business to business software and e-commerce platform services with media and brand partners.

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