Google to Buy DoubleClick

The search giant agrees to pay $3.1 billion for the online ad firm.
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Updated from 6:48 p.m. EDT

Google

(GOOG) - Get Report

has opened its wallet once again.

The search giant announced a deal late Friday to acquire online ad marketing firm

DoubleClick

for a hefty $3.1 billion in cash.

DoubleClick is run by San Francisco-based private equity firm Hellman & Friedman.

"The acquisition will combine DoubleClick's expertise in ad management technology for media buyers and sellers with Google's leading advertising platform and publisher monetization services," Google said in a press release.

"It has been our vision to make Internet advertising better -- less intrusive, more effective, and more useful. Together with DoubleClick, Google will make the Internet more efficient for end users, advertisers, and publishers," said Sergey Brin, Google's co-founder & president, technology.

Both companies have approved the transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close by the end of the year.

In the past several weeks, DoubleClick had been believed to be a likely target of several major Internet players. The

Wall Street Journal

reported in late March that

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

was in talks to acquire DoubleClick as a way to bolster its position in the booming online advertising market.

However, a week later it was reported that Google had entered the bidding and could likely push an acquisition price tag above $2 billion.

While $3.1 billion is significantly above that, it is still less than two years of free cash flow at Google, which has a market cap of more than $145 billion.

Many observers believed Google had an inside track since Google had a minority stake in

Time Warner's

(TWX)

AOL, one of DoubleClick's largest customers.

Google also was expected to launch a product similar to that offered by DoubleClick.

This is the second huge acquisition announced in six months by Google, which has tried to make inroads into markets outside its pay-per-search kingdom. In November, the company closed its $1.65 billion takeover of video-sharing site YouTube.

Shares of Google closed Friday down $1.10 to $466.29.