KKR Clicks with Internet Brands

NEW YORK (The Deal) -- Private equity firm Kohlberg, Kravis & Roberts  (KKR) has agreed to acquire Internet Brands, a provider of online media and software services, the target said Tuesday.

Internet Brands is being sold by sponsors Hellman & Friedman and JMI Equity Fund, which invested in 2010. The deal is valued at $1.1 billion, according to a New York Times report.

One source familiar with the transaction said that KKR will not break the brands up, and will "focus on growing its software solutions offerings."

KKR did not respond to a request seeking comment. A source familiar with the transaction said there are no changes anticipated with Internet Brands' management and its headquarters will remain based in California.

Sites operated by El Segundo, California-based Internet Brands include DoItYourself.com, Wikitravel, CarsDirect, CorvetteForum and Apartment Ratings, among others.

The company focuses on legal, home/travel, autodata solutions and health brands.

"Internet Brands is at an exciting inflection point of growth as the company transitions from a portfolio of web assets to a vertically integrated provider of media and client software solutions," said Herald Chen, co-head of KKR's technology investment group.


Lately, a mix of sponsors and strategic bidders have been moving in on legacy Internet brands, looking to extract value from companies with a history of valuable data.

Earlier this year, Providence Equity Partners sold its stake in AutoTrader Group back to Cox Enterprises Inc. for about $1.8 billion, a source told The Deal. And Guardian Media Group exited a sizeable stake in classified display advertising company Trader Media Group in January, selling it to joint venture partner Apax Partners.

Also, CoStar Group  (CSGP), a Washington, D.C.-based real estate company, in March spent $585 million to acquire assets belonging to Classified Ventures, including Apartments.com, RentalHomesPlus.com and ApartmentHomeLiving.com.

Classified Ventures is in the process of being broken up by a consortium of media organizations including A.H. Belo Corp., Gannett Co. Inc., McClatchy Co., Tribune Co. and Graham Holdings Co. The company is still in the process of exiting Cars.com; according to a recent Reuters report, Gannett is among the potential buyers weighing a bid for the entire company.

One individual familiar with the Classified Ventures process suggested Cars.com could fetch around $3 billion when its sale is completed.

Other online assets KKR has invested in include GoDaddy.com and Visma.

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