France Telecom Makes Surprise Purchase of Alapage
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France Telecom purchased the company for an undisclosed sum through its multimedia subsidiary.
"Alapage will allow France Telecom to offer editorial and bibliographical information to Net users and will give it a successful platform from which to handle online sales and distribution via e-commerce," an FT spokesperson said. Alapage also brings 10 years of know-how in database-management systems, she added.
A star among French e-merchants, Alapage.com averages more than 600,000 site visits and 14,000 orders per month from its 700,000-item catalog, including books, magazine subscriptions, multimedia, video games and show tickets. Some 800,000 sound clips allow customers to sample tracks before buying music CDs and LPs.
Some 40 percent of orders originate outside France, accounting for 60 percent of sales, said Beatrice Serfass, a spokesperson at Alapage. The company plans to add toys to the catalog via its recently purchased TeachandToys site.
Before this week's merger, FT's venture-capital subsidiary, Innovacom, already owned a 15 percent stake in Alapage, which now becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of France Telecom Multimedia. Created as a Minitel company by Patrick Magnard in 1987, Alapage launched its site in 1996 and later became a pioneering partner with FT's Voilà.fr portal.
France Telecom estimates that its Internet-related sales reached 380 million euros (U.S. $362 million) in the first half of this year, up from 140 million euros (U.S. $133 million) in the first six months of 1998.