Looking to amp up its mobile video and over-the-top video strategy, Verizon Communications said it has inked a deal to acquire AOL Inc. for $4.4 billion.
Verizon, which has agreed to buy AOL for $50 per share, said the deal will further its LTE-powered wireless video and OTT efforts and expand its move into digital content and advertising. Tim Armstrong, AOL chairman and CEO, will continue to lead AOL operations after closing, the companies said.
In AOL, Verizon will acquire a portfolio of content brands, including The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Engadget, MAKERS and AOL.com, as well as a menu of OTT fare targeted to the coveted millennial audience. Of recent note, AOL announced a year-round video content strategy last month that will offer short- and long-form programming across a wide range of screens, and also announced a content distribution and development deal with NBCUniversal.
On the digital ad front, AOL acquired multiscreen and programmatic video ad firm Adap.TV in 2013.
The acquisition also factors in as Verizon prepares to launch a new mobile video service that’s expected to launch in the second half of the year and feature between 20 to 30 channels. Verizon has already signed up several content partners for its coming “mobile-first” offering, including ACC Digital Network, Campus Insiders, CBS Sports, ESPN, 120 Sports and Awesomeness TV.
"Verizon's vision is to provide customers with a premium digital experience based on a global multiscreen network platform,” Verizon chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam said, in a statement. “This acquisition supports our strategy to provide a cross-screen connection for consumers, creators and advertisers to deliver that premium customer experience."
Verizon, he added has been “strategically investing in emerging technology, including Verizon Digital Media Services and OTT, that taps into the market shift to digital content and advertising. AOL's advertising model aligns with this approach, and the advertising platform provides a key tool for us to develop future revenue streams."
"Verizon is a leader in mobile and OTT connected platforms, and the combination of Verizon and AOL creates a unique and scaled mobile and OTT media platform for creators, consumers and advertisers,” Armstrong added. “ The visions of Verizon and AOL are shared; the companies have existing successful partnerships, and we are excited to work with the team at Verizon to create the next generation of media through mobile and video."
Verizon said the transaction will take the form of a tender offer followed by a merger, with AOL becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of Verizon upon completion. They expect the deal to close this summer.
Transaction advisers for Verizon were LionTree Advisors; Guggenheim Partners; and Weil, Gotshal & Manges. AOL advisers were Allen & Company LLC and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.