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Liberty to Acquire Wink With a Smile

Liberty Media Corporation said Monday that it would acquire all of the outstanding stock of Wink Communications, Inc. in a deal estimated at $100 million.

Alameda, Calif.-based Wink is a mass-market interactive television (iTV) player offers viewers an interactive way to access program-related information (such as weather, sports updates, trivia and play-along games) request product samples, coupons and other free offers from advertisers by using a button on their remote control.

Liberty, has been on a buying spree as of late. In May, the company said it was acquiring control of OpenTV Corp. for $185 million in cash and stock and a deal to acquire interactive television company ACTV for $2 a share.

Under the terms of this new agreement, Wink stockholders will receive $3.00 in cash for each share of Wink common stock. Wink will continue to operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of LBIT under the leadership of Wink CEO Maggie Wilderotter and her management team.

"LBIT is pleased to add Wink to our emerging iTV company. They have been the leading provider of complete, end-to-end technology solutions for delivering interactivity as well as processing the related responses. With more than five million interactive-enabled homes served by its network, it is the clear leader in domestic interactive deployments across multiple cable and satellite platforms," said Liberty president and CEO Peter Boylan III. "Maggie and the Wink management team have done a great job at solving some very difficult technical issues including the full development of the time consuming and expensive back office infrastructure that is so important and often overlooked as it relates to true t-commerce and interactivity."

With so much market penetration, it's no wonder that Wink has been the apple of many a merging-minded company's eye.

"Shares of Wink Communications have seen "more swings than Mike Tyson at a pre-fight press conference," said Phil Swann, president and publisher of TVPredictions.com, a news and analysis site about the industry.

Last November, the company was involved in a three-way deal to distribute music and related content from Music Choice and combine with the iTV technologies from DIRECTV and Wink.

Englewood, Colo.-based Liberty said pending shareholder approval, the transaction should be completed during the third quarter of this year.