RealTime IT News

America Online Buys MapQuest.com

Looking to guide consumers to commercial hotspots all over the country, America Online Inc. Wednesday purchased MapQuest.com Inc. in a stock deal worth $1.1 billion.

MapQuest.com shareholders will receive 0.31558 shares of AOL for each share they own. The deal, which must still be approved by shareholders and regulators, is expected to close in the spring.

AOL (AOL) will spread MapQuest.com's (MQST) touted maps across all its brands, including CompuServe, Netcenter and ICQ.

AOL also brings MapQuest.com to AOL's Digital City, the company's local content network, and MovieFone, a movie-listing and reservation service.

MapQuest.com ranked among the top 50 Web properties overall in the most recent Media Metrix, with a reach of almost 6 percent. A recent study by Jupiter Communications also confirmed the popularity of online maps. The study found more than 70 percent of consumers view online maps as more valuable than printed versions.

"We're very pleased to join with AOL. We have been helping millions of people get where they need to go each day. With America Online's resources and unmatched understanding of consumers, we can add new services and reach more people, becoming an even more important part of people's daily lives," said Michael Mulligan, MapQuest.com's chairman and chief executive officer.

According to October Media Metrix, MapQuest.com receives 3.7 million visitors monthly to its Web site and has a strong and growing international presence, with coverage of 78 countries in five languages. MapQuest.com also licenses its technology to more than 950 business partners.

Last week, AOL steered its way through marketing and advertising alliances with VitaminShoppe.com and Circuit City. AOL also helped Wal-Mart Stores Inc. launch a new Internet service that will target small communities throughout the nation. In November, AOL invested $30 million in Blockbuster Inc. in a co-branding agreement.