Comcast Spotlight Steers Vehix Acquisition

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Comcast Spotlight is expected to announce tomorrow that it has acquired the remaining interest in multiplatform car-buying service Vehix.

With the completion of the transaction on Feb. 11, terms of which were not disclosed, Comcast Spotlight will own 100% of Vehix. Prior to finalizing the deal with a shareholder group, led by Utah-based Ken Garff Automotive Group, which controlled a reported 51% stake in the service, Comcast's ad sales unit held a minority position in Vehix

Launched in 1996 by car dealer owner Garff Enterprises under the AutoMallUSA.com moniker, the online portal was designed to facilitate automotive research and purchasing processes for consumers. Today, the company distributes automotive content through multiple platforms, notably broadband and on-demand platforms of Comcast Spotlight, plus TV spots on cable systems, allowing more than 3,000 dealers to promote nearly 800,000 vehicles in online inventory at www.vehix.com.

In addition to original video content and proprietary virtual showroom technology, Vehix aggregates and co-develops content with J.D. Power, Car and Driver Magazine and NADAGuides.

Vehix shares an undisclosed percentage of ad revenue generated by the operation with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, Bresnan Communications, CableOne and Mediacom Communications.

“Acquiring Vehix demonstrates our commitment to bringing advanced integrated marketing solutions to this important advertising category,” said Comcast Spotlight senior vice president, finance/administration John Drain in a statement. “Vehix will enable our sales teams to partner with automotive advertisers of all sizes and create uniquely efficient and effective on-air, online and on-demand marketing campaigns.”

Noted Vehix CEO Derek Mattsson:“Being part of Comcast Spotlight enables Vehix to grow its distribution channels and content partnerships, while enhancing the car shopping experience. We're in a position to provide automotive advertisers a level of content and digital platform integration that is unrivaled by our competitors.”

Following its debut last decade, AutoMallUSA.com gained exposure and built car sales via exposure on Tele-Communications Inc. systems in Salt Lake City in 1997. Two years later, Vehix.com was formed by TCI Media Services, the ad-sales arm of the former cable behemoth, along with majority owner Garff Enterprises. Cable ownership in Vehix.com – which, in a move reflective of its multiplatform offerings, dropped .com from its name last summer-- shifted to AT&T Media Services after TCI merged with AT&T Corp. in 2000, and later to Comcast after the MSO acquired AT&T Broadband.

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