The German ProSieben buys the online dating site "eharmony" of the USA

FRANKFURT / MUNICH (Reuters) – German ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG announced on Monday that it has purchased the online dating site "eharmony" in the US after signing a new e-commerce joint venture with General Atlantic had closed.

The logo of the largest German private broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG can be seen on 26 February 2014 in front of the headquarters in Unterföhring near Munich. REUTERS / Michaela Rehle

The acquisition of eharmony, which was founded in 2000 in Los Angeles and is expected to register 2.8 million new users this year, complements ProSieben's own parship dating franchise, which is the market leader in Germany.

"We are bringing together two strong brands and building them into one of the world's leading online dating companies," said Max Conze, CEO of ProSieben.

No conditions were announced for the purchase of "eharmony", founded by clinical psychologist Neil Clark Warren. A comprehensive online questionnaire determined the compatibility of potential couples seeking long-term relationships.

Parship and its sister brand ElitePartner, which has 2 million registrations per year, use an algorithm that was developed separately in Germany but uses a similar approach, said Claas van Delden, co-CEO of Nucom.

"They are based on the same conviction," said van Delden. "In addition, the acquisition is so attractive because eharmony has a brand awareness of nearly 90 percent and a very large user base that we can better serve from a common platform."

The transaction follows ProSieben's ambitions to distance itself from its commercial TV core business, where advertising revenues are flat and the sector is disrupted by streaming platforms such as Netflix.

The Munich broadcaster bought the eharmony through the newly created Nucom division, to which General Atlantic had acquired 24.9 percent of the shares in February. Nucom, in turn, owns 94 percent of Parship.

It said the deal would provide access not only to the online dating markets in the United States, but also to Canada and Australia, where eharmony is also present. The US market is the most valued per-user and worth $ 3 billion, ProSieben said.

The privately owned eharmony has raised $ 113 million in two rounds of financing, most recently in 2004, when it was backed by Tuputele Ventures, TCV, Sequoia Capital and Fayez Sarofim & Co, according to Crunchbase.

Grant Langston, CEO of Eharmony, will continue to lead the business, while representatives of Parship will join the board.

Reporting by Douglas Busvine and Joern Poltz; Editing by Maria Sheahan

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