Ask Jeeves


, the late-bubble phenom whose share price dipped below $1 in the fall of 2002, is on the verge of being acquired by Barry Diller's



for $1.9 billion, a published report said Sunday.

IAC would acquire the search-engine company for cash and stock,

The New York Times

reported. Ask Jeeves closed Friday at $24.24 with a market cap of $1.43 billion, implying IAC's takeout price is north of $32 a share.

The article cited an executive close to the transaction.

The Wall Street Journal's

online edition subsequently published a similar story.

The reported $1.9 billion price tag is roughly 35 times Ask Jeeves' 2004 earnings from continuing operations of $52.4 million, and is 27 times its 2004 pro forma earnings from continuing operations of $71.1 million. The latter excludes items like depreciation and amortization.

About $1.2 billion of the purchase price will be in cash, the



After listing on the


in mid-1999, Ask Jeeves shares spent a brief period near $200 before falling hard during the Internet bubble's deflation. But they revived along with the broader market over the last two years, peaking out at $44.66 last summer.

The company is currently the fifth-largest search-engine provider on the Internet.