Aufeminin.com hunting for acquisitions abroad

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 30, 2011 11:40 AM
Aufeminin.com hunting for acquisitions abroad

By Matthias Blamont

PARIS (Reuters) - Aufeminin.com <OFMN.PA> is chasing acquisitions in English-speaking countries as it wants to boost traffic at its popular women interests' websites.

The Paris-listed company, owned by German publisher Axel Springer <SPRGn.DE>, also plans to further invest to secure access to its services from mobile phones and digital tablets in a move to adapt its model to new consumer trends, its chief executive said.

"We must go beyond the web," Marie-Laure Sauty de Chalon told Reuters in an interview on Monday. "Our big challenge is now to shine further in the whole media landscape."

Founded in 1999, Aufeminin.com sells online advertising spaces, mostly through various women interests' websites targeting audiences in 12 countries. It generates 47 percent of its sales outside France.

The group also operates online travel and cooking-dedicated platforms such as Voyage bon-plans and Marmiton for which it launched an application for Apple's <AAPL.O> iPad tablet in July.

Aufeminin.com said earlier this month it had purchased 100 percent of Netmums.com, a British parental website that offers editorial content, discussion forums and chats for mothers.

The company has also diversified with a software dubbed Smart AdServer aimed at helping companies to place adverts on the internet.

"We do not want to sit on a gold heap," Sauty de Chalon said, referring to the group's undisclosed cash position.

"English is clearly the language in which we need to develop," she said, adding that out of Aufeminin.com's monthly audience of 44 million visitors, 2 million come from English-speaking countries.

The executive declined to say where or when Aufeminin.com would do its next move.

She said however that her teams would also look at external growth opportunities for its Smart AdServer division.

Aufeminin.com's first half operating profit fell 2 percent to 7.13 million euros ($10.35 million) on sales up 15 percent at 22 million, generating a margin of 32 percent.

Sauty de Chalon tied the decline in operating profit to planned investments in new technologies and the hiring of editorial and sales teams in Spain and Italy but that the company would aim for an operating margin of more than 30 percent this year and next.

Shares in Aufeminin.com are down 3.5 percent so far this year, after a 37 percent gain in 2010, giving the group a market value of around 195 million euros.