Classified Ventures Acquires Auction Universe

Chicago-based Classified Ventures, the Internet
services business formed by eight large U.S. media companies, is moving into
the e-commerce arena with the acquisition of Auction Universe.

Auction Universe, a Times Mirror company, currently provides online auction
services through a network of more than 30 newspapers and other media
properties. It will continue to expand its own network, while being offered as
an optional e-commerce business line to Classified Ventures affiliates, whose
media properties include more than 140 newspapers. Financial terms of the deal
were not disclosed.

“Online auctions are an attractive opportunity and natural extension of the
traditional market-making role of our affiliates and their local media
properties,” said David Israel, president and CEO of Classified Ventures.
“Together with Auction Universe, we want to create an unmatched network of
media participants to help shape this emerging industry.”

“Together, the media networks of Classified Ventures and Auction Universe
reach more than 70 million people every day, with agreements in the pipeline
to add more than 20 million additional readers and listeners,” said Larry
Schwartz, president and CEO of Auction Universe. “This gives us a unique
ability to build credibility and trust and drive business in the online
auction market.”

Auction Universe newspaper affiliates devote a full page per week to promoting
its auctions. This is complemented by the company’s own $10 million television
and print ad campaign.

Schwartz said the economics of online auction services bring new types of
goods and services and new customers to expand traditional newspaper
classified offerings. The average item sold in online auctions is worth $45–
too inexpensive to advertise in most classifieds. As a result, 40 percent of those
who come to Auction Universe’s auctions through newspaper affiliate sites
currently do not subscribe to the newspaper.

Classified Ventures is funded by Central Newspapers, Inc., Gannett Co. Inc.,
Knight Ridder, The McClatchy Co., The New York Times Co., Times Mirror Co., Tribune
Co. and the Washington Post Co.

It currently operates a national apartments Web site, a national car site, and a national new construction site.

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