United Airlines to Buy MyPoints.com

Online incentive marketer MyPoints.com could wind up a subsidiary of United Airlines, following a proposed acquisition by UAL’s online unit, United NewVentures.

Under the terms of the proposed merger, United NewVentures will offer to purchase all of MyPoints.com for $2.60 per share — a premium over the company’s 10-day average closing price of $1.36 per share — making the deal worth about $112.5 million.

It’s not surprising news — like several of its competitors, San Francisco-based MyPoints has found airlines and travel companies to be some of the most receptive to its offerings, which incentivizes users for purchasing from advertisers or for opting-in to receive special offers via e-mail. The company boasts of clients including Continental Airlines and Alaskan Airlines.

Indeed, Chicago-based UAL is already saying that it’s most interested in linking MyPoints.com’s direct marketing services with its united.com site and its Mileage Plus frequent flier club. United will be able to send special offers to MyPoints.com’s reported 15 million members, who will also be able to redeem their points for travel awards on United Airlines.

“This proposed acquisition will allow us to communicate our special offers, upgrades and fares more effectively with our existing customers and also reach out to an expanded audience of new customers,” said United NewVentures president Doug Hacker. “MyPoints.com’s strong direct marketing capabilities and active user base make it a perfect complement to United’s commitment to better serve our customers.”

In addition, the proposed acquisition should allow MyPoints boost its own membership and advertising reach: the incentive marketer will be able to send ads from other clients to a user base incorporating both original MyPoints program members and opted-in members of United Mileage Plus/united.com.

“The proposed combination will create an even more powerful direct marketing organization, with a highly motivated consumer list and a suite of database-driven online media products that should be compelling to any advertiser,” said MyPoints’ chairman and chief executive John Fullmer.

UAL said it intended to keep MyPoints running as a separate company in San Francisco, with its technology center continuing to be based in Schaumburg, Il.

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