Ameritrade / TD Waterhouse

Online discount brokers Ameritrade Holdings Corp. and TD Waterhouse USA are discussing a possible merger, the companies said on Tuesday.

Analysts said a deal could be worth up to $3 billion and would likely be structured so Ameritrade owned the lion's share of the combined company.

In a brief statement, Ameritrade and TD Waterhouse USA's parent company, Toronto-Dominion Bank, said there were no assurances a deal would be consummated, or what the terms of a transaction might be.

Shares of Ameritrade were up 3 percent, giving the company a market valuation of about $5.9 billion.

Analysts see some sort of combination between brokers as inevitable, as the sector's players look for added heft to cut costs to offset slipping trading volumes.

Earlier this month, Ameritrade, based in Omaha, Nebraska, rebuffed an approach from rival E*Trade Financial Corp., which offered Ameritrade shareholders 47.5 percent of the combined company plus $1.5 billion in cash.

David Trone, an analyst at Fox-Pitt, Kelton, said in a research note that Ameritrade shareholders "should benefit nicely from any consolidation event involving the company."

A key question is whether Ameritrade uses the acquisition of TD Waterhouse USA as a "strategic expansion into the 'investor' space." At present, Ameritrade's customers are primarily traders.

A potential deal could see Ameritrade pay about $3 billion, with its shareholders ending up with about two-thirds of the new company, Trone wrote.

Harrell Smith, manager of the securities and investments practice at Celent, a research and advisory firm focused on financial services, thought a deal could be valued at $2 billion to $3 billion and could be structured as a merger, "with Ameritrade potentially having the upper hand."

Smith said the Ameritrade name was the most likely to survive.

Fox-Pitt's Trone said E*Trade could come in with its own offer for TD Waterhouse USA or could boost its bid for Ameritrade.

"The latter would likely prove futile, should Ameritrade indeed cut a deal with TD, because the Ameritrade board members would have even more 'business judgment' leeway than before to shun E*Trade," Trone wrote.

Ameritrade shares were up 45 cents to $14.84 in afternoon trade on the Nasdaq stock market.

Toronto-Dominion was up C$1.23 to C$53.43 on the Toronto exchange.

E*Trade rose 14 cents, or 1 percent, to $12.24 on the New York Stock Exchange.


Bingo.com / winabingo.com & groovybingo.com

Bingo.com has completed an asset purchase of www.winabingo.com and www.groovybingo.com sites which includes the player cash deposits, URLs, and player databases for a sum to be determined by the number of active players in the database and the amount of revenue they generate for the Company over the next 12 months. Active players from these sites will immediately have their accounts credited in the Bingo.com system and begin playing in the Bingo.com cash games.

"The acquisition of Winabingo and Groovy Bingo is another important step in Bingo.com's development as a online cash bingo business," commented Tarrnie Williams, the Company's CEO. "Bingo.com is completely focused on growing our active database of cash players through all available means including marketing and cash bingo website acquisition."



Cisco Systems / FineGround Networks

Network equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc. said Thursday it agreed to acquire FineGround Networks Inc. for $70 million in cash and options.

The privately held, Campbell, Calif.-based FineGround makes network equipment that improves end-user response times by up to 5 times, reduces application bandwidth usage by up to 90 percent, and reduces the load on servers by up to 90 percent, Cisco said.

Cisco expects to close the transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, by the end of its fourth quarter, or July 30.

At closing, FineGround Chief Executive Nat Kausik will manage the operation as part of Cisco's Security Technology Group. FineGround has 42 employees.

"This acquisition further enhances Cisco's strategy to converge application acceleration, security and a highly available network infrastructure seamlessly in the data center," said Jayshree Ullal, general manager of Cisco's Security Technology Group, in a statement.

Cisco shares rose 13 cents to $19.75 in premarket activity.



I-Sector / Network Architechs

I-Sector Corporation today announced that it has acquired Network Architechs Corp., an Albuquerque, New Mexico-based leading Cisco-centric IP Telephony and network infrastructure solution provider throughout New Mexico and West Texas with approximately $20 million in annual revenues. The acquisition will become part of I-Sector's InterNetwork Experts subsidiary, and the Company expects the transaction to be accretive to earnings per share for 2005.

"This transaction expands our market presence into a key Sunbelt state and is part of our planned national expansion," said James H. Long, I-Sector's Chairman and CEO. "Like I-Sector, Network Architechs has grown rapidly, benefiting from the double digit growth of IP Telephony technology in the enterprise space. This acquisition, coupled with our solid organic growth will continue to build our position as a leading Cisco-centric IP Telephony partner."

Network Architechs, the largest Gold Certified Cisco partner in New Mexico and West Texas, is a professional internetworking services company that designs, implements, maintains and supports advanced IP communications networks to meet the demands of today's economic and business climate. Headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the organization will operate as part of I-Sector's Internetwork Experts, Inc. subsidiary following the transaction.


Globat.com / EntityHosting.com

Los Angeles-based Globat.com, the world-leader in Performance Web Hosting(TM), today announced it acquired shared web hosting provider EntityHosting.com of San Diego, California-based Entity Communications, LLC. in an all cash transaction, adding Entity's customers to Globat.com's existing customer base and signaling a change in the company's so far conservative expansion policy by including growth through acquisition.

"With the acquisition of EntityHosting.com we have taken a step forward in widening our customer acquisition strategy by helping other web hosting organizations to implement our hosting solutions, which can be put in place rapidly, reduce costs, and drive up customer satisfaction and loyalty," said Ben R. Neumann, President and CEO of Globat.com. "Naturally we will continue to support and honor Entity's current customer agreements."

Entity's previous hosting customers will now benefit from an expanded range of products and services on offer from Globat.com, including 24/7 signature support, low-cost domain name registration, e-commerce hosting, and Globat's advanced B2 hosting platform.

Patrick Salami, founder and CEO of Entity Communications, LLC., said, "Globat.com's acquisition of EntityHosting.com again signals more consolidation in the market. The clear benefit for our customers is the access to Globat's experience and technology. Being a global player, they have the latest products and feature set, which can only be of great benefit to our customers."



Ask Jeeves / Excite Italia

Web search engine Ask Jeeves Inc., which has agreed to be acquired by Barry Diller's IAC/InterActivCorp, said Friday it purchased Excite Italia BV, the operator of Excite Europe, from Tiscali SpA.

Financial terms were not disclosed. Ask Jeeves acquired the U.S.-operated Excite.com Web portal in March 2004.

Ask Jeeves said it doesn't expect the acquisition to impact 2005 revenue or earnings per share, and does not expect the deal to affect previously issued financial guidance.

"This deal is a next step in Ask Jeeves' European expansion strategy," said Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Ask Jeeves. "Access to Excite's pan-European operational infrastructure and market knowledge will accelerate our European growth initiative and provide an instant revenue stream from additional users and advertisers."

The acquisition of Excite Europe will give the company ownership of Excite's Internet domains throughout Europe as well as control of existing portal offerings in several major European markets including Spain, Italy, France, Britain, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. Ask Jeeves will also have the ability to extend its search technology to Excite Europe users.

Excite has offered search and Web portal services since 1995. Excite will remain a separate brand under Ask Jeeves, with operations continuing out of Excite Europe's headquarters in Rome.


NetCert / 315.com.cn

NetCert, Inc. announces it has successfully acquired 315.com.cn, a popular web site in China with several million users.

This acquisition is a part of NetCert's expansion strategies to aggressively broaden the user base of their fast growing Treasure Island Mall as well as its peripheral services. NetCert is consolidating 315.com.cn into Treasure Island Mall to provide access to the loyal 315.com.cn fans and users.

"We are pleased to have 315.com.cn as a member of the NetCert family. The acquisition of 315.com.cn gives NetCert reach to potentially millions of new consumers. This acquisition will considerably increase the asset base of NetCert," states Mr. Andy Wang, founder and Chairman of NetCert.

The acquisition of 315.com.cn gives Beijing NetCert a launch pad for its Treasure Island Mall and 315.com.cn provides instant membership, web traffic and exposure for Treasure Island.

An acquisition such as 315.com.cn is just one of what we hope to be many as we move forward with our global expansion plans.



VeriSign / R4 Global Solutions

VeriSign Inc., a provider of network and Internet security products, said late Wednesday it acquired R4 Global Solutions for $15 million in cash.

San Francisco-based R4 Global Solutions is a provider of supply chain and radio frequency identification technology, which allows an object or person to be identified at a distance using radio frequency.

The company said the acquisition closed today, and the deal is expected to be neutral to VeriSign's earnings per share for 2005.

VeriSign shares rose 83 cents, or 2.9 percent, to close at $29.95 on the Nasdaq, and then rose another 2 cents to $29.97 in after-hours activity.


Kijiji (eBay) / Gumtree.com, LoQUo.com

Kijiji, eBay's international classifieds group, today announced that it has acquired Gumtree.com (www.gumtree.com) and LoQUo.com (www.loquo.com), two separate classifieds Web sites operating in select international cities. The acquisitions help Kijiji expand its global network of Web sites, and allow Gumtree and LoQUo to further scale their businesses with the resources and expertise of Kijiji and eBay.

Gumtree.com, founded in London in 2000 by Michael Pennington and Simon Crookall, is a leading local classifieds site in the United Kingdom. A popular online community center for apartment rentals, employment, and goods and services, Gumtree offers multiple city sites in a number of countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

LoQUo.com, founded in Barcelona in 2002 by Ubaldo Huerta, is a leading community-focused classifieds site in Spain. A local online meeting place, LoQUo specializes in housing, personals, employment, jobs and practical items for sale. LoQUo offers multiple city sites in Spain and other European countries.

"Gumtree and LoQUo are key classifieds sites in the UK and Spain, respectively, and we are pleased to have them in the Kijiji family," said Alex Kazim, senior vice president of new ventures at eBay, responsible for Kijiji. "This is an important step forward in our strategy to expand our global portfolio of Web sites."

eBay does not expect either acquisition to have a material impact on 2005 net revenues and earnings per share, and does not expect either acquisition to affect eBay's financial guidance as issued in connection with its first quarter earnings announcement on April 20, 2005.

Further terms of the agreements were not disclosed.



Cisco Systems / Topspin Communications

Cisco Systems today announced it has completed the acquisition of privately-held Topspin Communications, Inc. of Mountain View, Calif.

On April 14, 2005, Cisco announced a definitive agreement to acquire Topspin, a leading provider of server fabric switches, a new class of server networking equipment, that provides a high performance, programmable infrastructure for grid and utility computing, clustered enterprise applications, and server virtualization. The Topspin product line will extend Cisco's data center switching solutions to include InfiniBand-based server switching and will complement Cisco's existing network switching and storage switching solutions including its Ethernet-based Catalyst switching platform for internet/intranet infrastructure and its multiprotocol (Fibre Channel, FCIP, iSCSI and FICON) MDS switches for storage area networks.



VoIP Inc. / Caerus, Inc., Volo Communications

VoIP Inc. announced today that it has advanced $475,000 dollars and had signed a letter of intent to acquire Caerus, Inc. which includes all wholly-owned subsidiaries; Volo Communications, Inc., Caerus Networks Inc, and Caerus Billing Inc.

Under the purposed purchase terms, VoIP, Inc. will acquire 100% of the stock and assets of Caerus, Inc in exchange for the issuance of 15 million common shares of VoIP, Inc. The company has advanced Caerus, Inc. $475,000 for implementation of their newly developed Least Cost Routing engine (LCR) and the Company expects to fund an additional $275,000 dollars for LCR prior to closing.



E*Trade makes offer for Ameritrade

E*Trade Financial Corp. on Thursday made an unsolicited takeover offer for Ameritrade Holdings Corp. but the rival online discount brokerage said it was not for sale.

E*Trade offered Ameritrade shareholders 47.5 percent of a combined company, plus $1.5 billion in cash.

Based on the most recent average common shares outstanding for both companies, such a cash and stock bid would value Ameritrade at about $5.6 billion, or $10.28 a share.

A merger would combine two of the largest players in the online trading marketplace and create a serious competitor to Charles Schwab Corp., the largest online brokerage. The combination would serve more than 7 million customers with total client assets of $170 billion, according to E*Trade.

"The investment community has clearly stated a need for consolidation in this industry," Mitchell Caplan, E*Trade's chief executive, said in a statement. "The market's initial reaction validates its acceptance of the proposal we have put forth."

E*Trade said it first sent a letter to Ameritrade late last week with the aim of spurring merger talks. It was only after details of E*Trade's interest were leaked to the press this week that the company publicly confirmed it sought the merger.

E*Trade said it expects a deal to generate $650 million in revenue benefits and cost savings.


But Ameritrade, in a statement issued Thursday, indicated it did not share E*Trade's interest.

"Ameritrade is not for sale. We are confident in our management team and its strategy," Ameritrade founder and Chairman Joe Ricketts said.

Ameritrade, which has done seven mergers in the past four years, said it expects the industry to continue to consolidate. It said it would continue to explore strategic opportunities, but did not elaborate.

"We doubt any move by E*Trade to escalate the battle ... would be effective," Fox-Pitt, Kelton analysts said in a research report.

Ameritrade's "statement suggested that the company's leadership seeks to be a buyer, not seller," Fox-Pitt, Kelton said.

Media reports have said Omaha, Nebraska-based Ameritrade has held talks with TDWaterhouse Group parent Toronto-Dominion Bank about buying the Canadian company's New York online operation.

Toronto-Dominion said it would not comment on the speculation, but did not rule out parting with, or building on, its Waterhouse platform.

In an interview with Reuters late last week, Ameritrade chief operating officer J. Peter Ricketts was dismissive of E*Trade's business strategy, saying the brokerage was "trying to be all things to all people."

Analysts say it would be difficult for E*Trade to bypass Ameritrade's board and bring its takeover offer directly to shareholders since the Ricketts family controls 31.3 percent of the stock. Ricketts, meanwhile, has indicated he wants to increase his 30 percent stake in Ameritrade, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Under an earlier pact with the company, Ricketts is required to vote along with the majority of the Ameritrade board if the online brokerage firm decided to sell or merge, the newspaper said. His two sons, Thomas Ricketts and J. Peter Ricketts, also sit on the board.

Campbell Chaney, an analyst at Sanders Morris Harris in Houston, on Thursday wrote: "We do believe this could escalate into a conflict that will end with Ameritrade being aquired, possibly by E*Trade, possibly by someone else."

Shares of Ameritrade closed at $13.80, up 4 cents on the day on Nasdaq. E*Trade's stock shed 34 cents, or 2.75 percent, to end at $12.04 on the New York Stock Exchange.



Travelzoo Stock Up on Takeover Speculation

Investors moved into shares of Travelzoo Inc. as speculation heated up Thursday it might be the next Web site to be snapped up in the ongoing consolidation of online travel agencies.

The New York-based firm, which publishes sales and specials cultivated from hundreds of travel companies, is among the last remaining independent travel Web sites that are publicly traded. The field of potential takeover targets was reduced by one Tuesday after Travelocity owner Sabre Holdings Inc. agreed to buy British travel booking site Lastminute.com PLC in a $1.1 billion deal.

Shares of Travelzoo surged $3.18, or 11.5 percent, to $30.89 on heavy volume. The stock is trading some 70 percent below its 52-week high of $110.62 set last December.

There have been a number of merger and acquisition moves within the Internet travel industry during the past few years. Travel search engines and booking companies are vying to tap a burgeoning market: sales in the online travel space are seen growing to $71 billion by next year, up from $21 billion in 2001, according to Credit Suisse First Boston.

Among the most publicized acquisitors in the space is billionaire financier Barry Diller's IAC/InteractiveCorp, which has one-by-one bought travel-related sites such as Expedia, Hotels.com, and Hotwire. Cendant Corp., a conglomerate that operates everything from real estate companies to marketing firms, also has cobbled together a strong field of travel companies, including Orbitz and Cheap Tickets, as well as Britain's Ebookers.

Travelzoo might be among the last travel companies that equity investors can sink money into as most of its rivals are privately held. There are dozens of small online travel companies that have turned away from the stock markets, instead turning to private investors and venture capital firms.

SideStep Inc. raised about $17 million from Trident Capital in order to launch its services, while rival Mobissimo has raised cash from firms such as Cambrian Ventures. Kayak.com secured $7 million of financing from Sequoia Capital -- which was an early investor in technology bellwethers such as Google, Yahoo and Apple -- to help launch its travel Web site.

Cendant shares rose 28 cents to $20.48 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. IAC/Interactive fell 13 cents to $22.83 on the Nasdaq.


Theglobe.Com / Tralliance Corporation

Theglobe.com, an Internet communications company, announced today that it exercised an option to purchase Tralliance Corporation. Theglobe.com had previously announced the potential acquisition on November 17, 2004. The purchase price consisted of the issuance of 2,000,000 shares of theglobe.com Common Stock, warrants to acquire 475,000 shares of theglobe.com Common Stock and $40,000 in cash. The warrants are exercisable for a period of 5 years at an exercise price of $0.11 per share. The Common Stock issued as a result of the acquisition of Tralliance is entitled to certain "piggy-back" registration rights. In addition, as part of the transaction, the Company agreed to pay approximately $154,000 in outstanding liabilities of Tralliance immediately after the closing of the acquisition.



RealNetworks / Mr. Goodliving

RealNetworks Buys Finnish Mobile Games Maker Mr. Goodliving for About $15 Million SEATTLE (AP) -- RealNetworks Inc., which produces digital media and software, said Wednesday it acquired Finnish mobile games designer Mr.Goodliving Ltd. for about $15 million in cash, in a move into the mobile-game publishing business.

Based in Helsinki and founded in 1999, Mr.Goodliving has created casual mobile games available throughout Europe. The company's library includes the Playman Sports series and the European-distribution rights for the Trivial Pursuit mobile edition. The company's games are available through more than 100 distributors and carriers, including Vodafone, Telefonica and T-Mobile International.

Mr.Goodliving will operate as a unit of RealNetworks, and all of Mr.Goodliving's employees will continue with the company and remain in their Helsinki location. Juha Ruskola will continue as managing director of the Finnish firm and lead RealNetworks' mobile games business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

RealNetworks said it expects the acquisition to generate about $3 million of incremental revenue for the remainder of 2005 and about $8 million in 2006. Accordingly, RealNetworks raised 2005 revenue guidance to between $323 million and $333 million, up from prior estimates of $320 million to $330 million.

The company said the transaction won't impact 2005 profit guidance, but will add slightly to 2006 earnings per share.



E*Trade / Ameritrade

A desire to cut costs amid falling trading volumes could be behind the reported merger talks between the nation's largest online stock brokerages, analysts say.

Citing unnamed sources, The New York Times reported in its Monday editions that E-Trade Financial Corp. made an unsolicited bid to buy Omaha-based Ameritrade Holdings Corp. for more than $5.5 billion. The offer was made Friday, even as Ameritrade has been holding secret negotiations to buy a third brokerage, TD Waterhouse, the Times and the Wall Street Journal reported.

A spokeswoman for Ameritrade told The Associated Press on Monday that the company would not comment on the report.

Following the reports, Ameritrade shares soared 19 percent, or $2.16 a share, to close Monday at $13.47 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Matthew Fischer, an analyst with IRG Research, said that in a climate of declining trade commissions and dropping trade volume, a merger would make sense for investors.

"You can get rid of some of the operations and some of the marketing costs and just throw more trades down your existing pipeline," Fischer said. "It enables them to keep reasonably good margins in a revenue-per-trade environment."

While investors might like the idea of consolidation, those who control Ameritrade -- like chairman J. Joe Ricketts and the Ricketts family -- might not, Fischer said.

"Ameritrade wants to maintain control of the company in any type of merger. This could pose a problem going forward," he said. "At the end of the day, it comes down to ... how much control the Ricketts family will be willing to cede in being acquired."

Matthew Snowling, a financial analyst with Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group Inc. in Arlington, Va., said soft trading volume is a factor in any merger or takeover attempts, but said consolidation of online brokerages just makes sense for investors in the long run.

"I think we're heading in one direction here, and that's change," Snowling said. "They can combine with E-Trade or work to expand on their own, but they can't do nothing. There's too much capacity in this industry."

Ameritrade reported last month that its second-quarter profit slipped 12 percent to $71 million -- or 17 cents a share -- as trading volume fell sharply. Earnings for the same three-month period in 2004 were $81 million, or 19 cents a share.

Ameritrade had an average of 167,209 client trades per day during its first quarter, a decrease of 21.1 percent from 211,917 average daily trades the year before. The company also saw a drop in trading in the October-December quarter, which saw an average of 171,000 trades per day.

Shares of E-Trade rose 74 cents a share to $12.67 by the close of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Representatives for New York-based E-Trade declined to comment to The Times. The Times said a spokesman for TD Waterhouse, which is based in New York, could not be reached for comment. TD Waterhouse is owned by The Toronto-Dominion Bank.


Sticky Web, Inc. acquisition propels strategy

(BUSINESS WIRE) --May 5, 2005-- Sticky Web, Inc. acquisition strengthens business model.

With the signing of the definitive agreement to acquire Estrela Marketing Solutions of Delray Beach, Florida, Sticky Web has implemented the first of three stages of its business strategy. The first stage is to make an acquisition that compliment its e-mail management and marketing patent, number 6,631,400.

The second stage is to roll out its Mail Wiz® technology as an ASP. The data files and e-mail records of the acquired company will be integrated into the Mail Wiz® ASP. Mail Wiz® is a fully automated e-mail management and marketing system available in real-time.

Sticky Web has developed the Mail Wiz®, e-mail marketing and management technology, as well as the Sticky Web®, website development and design technology, that operate together to provide a comprehensive and unique e-mail management and marketing solution.

The third stage is to create business relationships with companies using a patent driven strategy that compliments Sticky Web's patents and IP portfolio.


Juniper Networks / Kagoor Networks and Redline Networks

Juniper Networks, Inc. today announced it has completed the acquisitions of Kagoor Networks, Inc., a leading provider of session border control (SBC) products for voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) networking, and Redline Networks, Inc., a pioneer in the development of Application Front End (AFE) technology.
Juniper Networks announced a definitive agreement to acquire Kagoor Networks on March 29, 2005. It announced a definitive agreement to acquire Redline Networks on April 26, 2005. Juniper Networks currently expects to close the acquisition of Peribit Networks, Inc. in the third quarter of 2005 subject to certain customary closing conditions, including Hart Scott Rodino (HSR) approval.

Jupitermedia / JGuru.com

Jupitermedia Corporation's JupiterWeb division announced the acquisition of JGuru.com (www.jguru.com), an online community for Java(TM) programmers and software developers. JGuru.com provides news, information, forums and online courses designed for Java(TM) programmers and software developers. The JGuru.com online community is comprised of top Java(TM) developers, who are encouraged to maintain their individuality and express their own opinions freely, which gives JGuru.com the credibility needed for the success of any online community. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

"The acquisition of JGuru.com further adds to JupiterWeb's comprehensive collection of online communities and will be a valuable resource for user audience as well as for Jupitermedia," stated Alan Meckler, Chairman and CEO of Jupitermedia Corporation. "JGuru.com's audience of Java(TM) software developers are very passionate about their industry and dedicated to their profession. This makes them a highly desirable audience to advertisers needing to reach them," added Meckler.

JGuru.com will become part of Jupitermedia's EarthWeb.com Network, which is organized into five "channels" targeting the needs of IT Management, Hardware and Systems Professionals, Networking and Communications Administrators, Web and Software Developers.


Jobing.com / California Online Job Network

Jobing.com, LLC, one of USA's leading locally focused employment websites, announced today the finalization of its acquisition of the California Online Job Network, one of the leading local employment websites covering the entire State of California.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. This, Jobing.com's second acquisition announcement within the last forty-five days, promises the integration of the California Online Job Network, Job Summit and Jobing.com and will position the local job board leader as the largest, most well trafficked job board in Southern California.