The UK’s leading online dating agency DatingDirect.com and its sister company Chemistry are to be sold to the European sector leader Meetic in a deal worth £27.3 million.
The Birmingham office of Clearwater International, advised by Midlands’ solicitors HBJ Gateley Wareing, is acting as matchmaker for the deal, after being appointed by DatingDirect.com’s shareholders to advise them on their strategic options. The transaction should be completed in January, once the remaining conditions have been fulfilled.
Founded in 1999 by the current owners Darren Richards and Andrew Pike, Birmingham-based DatingDirect.com has experienced rapid growth and now has over 4.5 million members, with nearly 3.5 million of them in the UK. In 2004 the company was ranked number 35 in the Sunday Times/Microsoft Tech Track 100 fastest growing technology companies. Since then, it has continued to grow with estimated revenue for 2006 reaching £11 million this year. DatingDirect.com’s website enables users to search for, and then contact potential dates and offers a range of features including text message alerts and ‘Cupid mail’. Chemistry, its sister company organises live singles events such as speed dating. In addition, DatingDirect provides a third party dating service to almost 20 other organisations, including broadcaster Channel Four, internet service provider AOL, radio station Heart FM and multi-media service provider ntl.
Quoted company Meetic, based in Boulogne, France, has, since its launch in 2001, established itself as Europe’s leading online dating service with a well recognised brand and more than 25.4 million registered members. Meetic offers its service in 12 different languages across 14 European countries together with China and Brazil. The acquisition of DatingDirect.com will provide Meetic with an entry to the UK market and will strengthen its dominant position in the European market.
Darren Richards, Chief Executive, DatingDirect.com
“The third party white label services have not only increased revenue, but also helped to attract additional members which in turn has boosted the site’s success as the more members, the greater chance of meeting the right person in the right geographical area.
“This is a high growth market and there is massive potential to increase revenue further through added value premium services. The acquisition will provide Meetic with a very strong foothold in the UK market and provide its existing operation with a greater critical mass”.