Microsoft bids $1.2M for Norwegian search engine company


Published: Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 12:54 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 12:54 p.m.

OSLO, Norway - Microsoft Corp. agreed to buy search engine company Fast Search & Transfer ASA for $1.2 billion Tuesday, adding software products that help companies trawl for information on the Internet.

The offer of $2.97 per share, or 19 kroner, was 42 percent premium to the Norwegian company's recent average share price, and caused the stock to soar by nearly the same amount in early trading on the Oslo stock exchange. Fast's board unanimously recommended that shareholders accept the offer, a news release said.

Fast, founded in 1997 in Oslo, specializes in tailored Web searches that allow major companies, from freight to telecommunications, to store and manage information.

"Enterprise search is becoming an indispensable tool to businesses of all sizes, helping people find, use and share critical business information quickly," Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division, said in a joint news release. "Until now organizations have been forced to choose between powerful, high-end search technologies or more mainstream, infrastructure solutions. The combination of Microsoft and FAST gives customers a new choice: a single vendor with solutions that span the full range of customer needs."

Conditions of the offer include acceptance by at least 90 percent of Fast's shareholders under the terms of a formal offer to be made next week, the statement from the two companies said. The two largest institutional shareholders, Norway's Orkla ASA and Hermes Focus Asset Management Europe have already accepted the offer, and the companies aim to complete the sale during the second quarter.

Fast's chief executive, John Lervik, said becoming part of Microsoft "gives Fast an exciting way to spread our cutting-edge search technologies and innovations to more and more organizations across the world."

Microsoft shares fell 8 cents to $34.53 in early trading.

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