RealTime IT News

Johnnic Buys Major South African Search Engine

Media, entertainment and telecommunications giant Johnnic this week said that it has acquired Ananzi, South Africa's largest Internet search engine, for an undisclosed sum.

Ananzi will form the foundation of the business-to-consumer element of Johnnic e-Ventures, the new e-commerce initiative announced last month by Johnnic CEO Paul Edwards. Full details of Johnnic's online plans would be announced in February, he said.

Ananzi was bought from I-Net Bridge, the online business portal of which Johnnic owns an indirect 37.5 percent. Also acquired from I-Net Bridge was the online advertising sales operation which sells banner advertising and sponsorship on Ananzi and a number of other Web sites.

"This is an established team, well respected in the industry, that can bring in an immediate cashflow," said Edwards. He also said research showed Ananzi was one of the most recognised South African Web brands.

"With more than two million page impressions per month, it makes an excellent base for our aggressive online plans." he said. "Our goal is to form an e-commerce consumer hub around Ananzi to build it into a leading Internet property in South Africa."

I-Net Bridge CEO Neil Jacobsohn said Ananzi would be immediately redeveloped and expanded to ensure it was robust enough for these major expansion plans.

Jacobsohn said that I-Net Bridge, which over the past 18 months has spent more than R40-million establishing a top-class online infrastructure, would partner Johnnic by providing technical and other support services.

Jacobsohn revealed that this move would allow I-Net Bridge to focus primarily upon the business-to-business e-commerce market while at the same time bolstering Johnnic's consumer-oriented programme.

"The sale of Ananzi enables I-Net Bridge to focus on its business-to-business core activity, freeing us to provide value-added services to the business community," Jacobsohn commented. "Ananzi is primarily a consumer vehicle and thus fits well into Johnnic's plans to become a major player in the business-to-consumer and consumer-to-consumer markets."

The move gives Johnnic an immediate presence in the online marketspace -- in the consumer market through Ananzi, and in the business market through the indirect I-Net Bridge shareholding. I-Net Bridge's shares are held 25 percent each by Times Media Limited - itself owned 100% by Johnnic - and BDFM Publishers who are 50% owned by Johnnic.

Other I-Net Bridge shareholders are Dimension Data (25 percent) and Bridge, the New York-based online giant that is now the largest provider of online business information in the U.S. and second largest in the world.

I-Net Bridge has grown to some 25,000 paying users in the financial and business community, while Ananzi, the original SA Internet search engine, has a powerful market share. Recent research shows that more than 40 percent of local Web users recognise the brand, and more than 20 percent use it consistently.