AOL To Pocket Bebo Social Networking Site For $850m

New York (NY) - AOL has announced that it will acquire the social networking site Bebo for $850 million, more than $200 million over what News Corp paid for Myspace last year.

Bebo currently has the strongest hold in the UK and Ireland, where it is the #1 social networking platform. It is also the most popular one in New Zealand and ranks in at #3 in the US.

"Bebo is the perfect complement to AOL's personal communications network and puts us in a leading position in social media," said AOL CEO Randy Falco.

Last year, News Corp purchased the market-leading site Myspace for $580 million. The media giant has said that its actual value is now more than $15 billion. Facebook, the #2 site, is estimated to be worth about the same.

Bebo, which is an acronym for "blog early blog often," launched in January 2005. The site allows users to post their own music, writing and videos. Late last year it also launched a mobile version of the social networking service.

AOL said Bebo will be part of its international expansion. The online company plans to bring new services to 30 countries by the end of the year, and it plans to bring Bebo to five additional countries.