March 4, 2020 / 7:53 PM / in a month

Exclusive: ProSieben's NuCom nears deal to acquire Meet Group - sources

(Reuters) - German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE’s (PSMGn.DE) e-commerce arm NuCom Group is nearing a deal to acquire Meet Group Inc (MEET.O) that could value the U.S. dating app developer at more than $500 million, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

NuCom, whose holdings include online dating website eharmony, could finalize an agreement to buy Meet Group as early as Thursday, when ProSieben reports its fourth-quarter earnings, the sources said.

It is still possible the deal negotiations will fall apart at the last minute or get delayed, one of the sources said.

The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. ProSieben declined to comment, while Meet Group did not respond to a request for comment.

Meet Group shares jumped 20% to $6.64 on the news.

Based in New Hope, Pennsylvania, Meet Group is a maker of internet-based apps that enable live-streaming broadcasts and text-based conversations, including MeetMe, LOVOO, Skout, Tagged and Growlr.

Meet Group has struggled to challenge the dominant U.S. dating app developer, Match Group Inc (MTCH.O). It is focusing on expanding its live-streaming platforms, modeled after the video products offered by Asian dating app providers.

ProSieben has looked to NuCom to diversify its legacy free-to-air TV business and expand its internet and social media portfolio. NuCom spans dating site Parship, energy price comparison portal Verivox and Jochen Schweizer, which sells vouchers for “experiences” like tandem parachute jumps.

In 2018, investment firm General Atlantic acquired a 25.1% stake in NuCom from ProSieben at a 1.8 billion euro ($2 billion) valuation. It increased its stake slightly in 2019.

Reporting by Klaus Lauer in Berlin, Arno Schuetze in Frankfurt and Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Tom Brown and Leslie Adler

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