Excite Home, the Internet portal and broad-band cable Internet access company, has announced a deal to buy iMALL Inc. and a strategic partnership with First Data Merchant Services Corp.
The moves would let the Redwood City, Calif., company equip merchants with electronic commerce capabilities and connect them with the 22 million consumers who shop on Excite Home's site every month.
"We have in a single step become a leader" in offering electronic commerce software to merchants, said George Bell, president of Excite Home, which is the result of a recent merger between Excite Inc. and Home Network.
Excite Home's marketing partnership with First Data Merchant Services, a unit of Atlanta-based First Data Corp. that currently owns 11% of iMALL, is to last 10 years.
iMALL recently signed a joint marketing agreement with First Data Merchant Services to sell merchants turnkey electronic commerce systems that use First Data's payment processing capabilities. Marketing of the combined offering began last month.
The Excite Home deal will continue that relationship. First Data would market the services through 10 large banks to their merchant clients. Meanwhile, Excite Home will continue to market the iMALL/First Data offering through third-party resellers like International Business Machines Corp.
After the acquisition is closed, iMALL is to operate as an independent subsidiary and report to the Work business services division.
Founded in 1994, Santa Monica, Calif.-based iMALL helps businesses create Web sites and establish merchant bank accounts on-line. The company also operates the www.stuff.com and www.imall.com shopping portals.
Mr. Bell said that decisions about the future names of those Web sites have yet to be made, but he added, "We are focused on the Excite brand for consumers."
Excite Home will issue about 8.3 million of its shares valued at roughly $425 million to iMALL shareholders.