6th August 2009
BRIGHTSOLID ACQUIRES FRIENDS REUNITED
brightsolid today announced it is to acquire Friends Reunited Group from ITV plc for £25 million. The completion of the deal is subject to clearance by the competition authorities.
brightsolid is a fast growing online innovation business owned by DC Thomson, one of the largest privately owned media and publishing groups in the country. A key part of brightsolid’s strategy is building businesses that link “people and places” on the internet.
Friends Reunited is the original social network with 20.6 million members. It was launched in 2000 to put old school friends back in touch with each other and swiftly became a British media phenomenon. Sister site Genes Reunited was launched in 2003 and is currently the UK’s largest family history website with over 9 million members worldwide and 650 million names listed. Together with Friends Reunited Dating, the group attracts three million unique users per month.
The acquisition of Friends Reunited Group would create Britain’s leading genealogy business by bringing together Genes Reunited and findmypast.com (which operate the official 1901 and 1911 Census websites respectively in association with The National Archives) and ScotlandsPeople in partnership with General Register Office for Scotland, the National Archives of Scotland and the Court of the Lord Lyon.
Chris van der Kuyl, CEO brightsolid, said: “We see the acquisition of Friends Reunited Group as an exciting opportunity to provide new focus for and build on the iconic status of the Friends Reunited brands. Between them these brands attract over three million unique users per month. This also marks another step forward in the future strategy of brightsolid, widening its offering to the consumer marketplace, in particular by creating Britain’s leading genealogy business.”
Andy Baker, MD Friends Reunited adds: “We are delighted that brightsolid can see the great value and future potential in the Friends Reunited Group. brightsolid is an innovative online group and by bringing our companies together this way we can build the Friends Reunited business to offer something new and different to our customers. We look forward to working with Chris and the team to develop the business further.”
brightsolid is led by digital media entrepreneur CEO Chris van der Kuyl, who joined in October 2007. The broad reach of its online innovation means The Friends Reunited Group will also benefit from brightsolid’s resilient data centre and managed hosting services.
brightsolid was advised by HMT Corporate Finance on this transaction and Macfarlanes provided the legal services.
Notes to Editors
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brightsolid began life in 1995 as Scotland Online and is a leading UK independent provider of IT business services to large public and private sector organisations.
brightsolid helps its clients to design and implement high volume, high availability, high performance online products and services. It has done this successfully since the mid 1990s when it became one of the pioneering internet companies of the time. brightsolid has two divisions, online publishing and online technology.
brightsolid’s online technology division is a leading UK independent provider of online IT business services and an ISP delivering business-critical services. The company’s online technology division specialises in managing clients’ information availability and online presence through hosting, internet access, applications and business continuity products and services.
Business Continuity is ensured with dual location and disaster recovery services, including a fully equipped Workplace Recovery suite managed via our partnership with SunGard. brightsolid operates its own data centre underpinned by a resilient and secure network with dual location and disaster recovery options. brightsolid takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously and is ISO14001 certified, which is the standard designed to help organisations minimise how their operations negatively affect the environment.
brightsolid’s online publishing division has significant expertise in the digitisation and management of records in a fast-growing online market. It manages ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk, a partnership between the General Register Office for Scotland, the National Archives of Scotland and the Court of the Lord Lyon.
In 2007, brightsolid acquired findmypast.com, an online family history site. findmypast.com was the first website to put the complete birth, marriage and death indexes for England and Wales online. The company also successfully launched ancestorsonboard.com, the online passenger lists records resource, for The National Archives in January 2006. It included details of over 24 million travellers, including the historic details of the Titanic’s maiden voyage. brightsolid recently launched the group’s first, and Scotland’s only, online magazine ‘Discover My Past Scotland’.
Headquartered in Dundee, the company is owned by the publishers D.C. Thomson and has offices in Edinburgh and London.
About DC Thomson
DC Thomson & Co Ltd is a long-established, family-owned and run company which has been publishing newspapers and magazines for well over 100 years.
The firm produces more than 100 million copies of their many titles each year including respected local and national newspapers, books, annuals and a range of comics and magazines for both adults and children.
DC Thomson has also brought to life some of the UK’s most iconic characters – such as The Beano’s Dennis and Gnasher and The Dandy’s Desperate Dan.
Founded in 1905 it remains a major Scottish publisher, operating from three sites in Dundee, and branch offices in Glasgow, Manchester and London, as well as a chain of local district offices which help the Company retain its links with the communities they serve.
The company has an unrivalled portfolio, owning other companies in the publishing arena such as Aberdeen Journals Ltd, Parragon Publishing Limited, Peter Haddock Publishing Ltd and Puzzler Media Holdings Limited, as well as brightsolid.
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