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About.com Buys Web Hosting Company

Live-guide online network About.com Inc. Tuesday added Web hosting and development to its line of services with the acquisition of North Sky Inc. in a stock deal worth approximately $23 million.

North Sky operates freeservers.com, which provides Web site development tools and is a hosting network for thousands of Web sites.

About.com (BOUT) will acquire North Sky for 500,000 unregistered shares of common stock. North Sky will remain an independent subsidiary of About.com and will continue to focus on the tools development and hosting needs of the Internet industry at large and About.com, specifically, the firms said.

While primarily a network of content resources for consumers, adding tools for Web developers is part of the company's strategy to build its services for businesses.

"By having North Sky services used by individual Webmasters and large businesses, we expect to significantly increase our business-to-business relationships around the Net and direct traffic back to the 650 niche vertical sites within the About.com network, particularly our About Industry channel, which is currently under development," said Scott Kurnit, About.com's chairman and chief executive officer.

About.com offers categories maintained by live guides designed to provide comprehensive information on a certain subject. Categories include news, sports, finance, shopping, family, computing, education, entertainment and travel.