Groupon raises $500m

Internet sensation Groupon, which specialises in dishing out local bargains, says it has raised $500-million, just weeks after rejecting a multi-billion-dollar takeover bid by Google.

The mega-financing, revealed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), was part of a funding round launched on December 17 that could fetch up to $950-million dollars.

Google was believed to have offered more than five billion dollars to buy up the online discount shopping site early this month, but Groupon decided to remain independent.

The Chicago-based startup is also considering an initial public offering to issue common stock or shares for the first time as part of an effort to become publicly traded as soon as the end of 2011, according to The New York Times.

In the meantime, more than $344-million of the total raised so far will be used to compensate Groupon’s leaders and administrators.

Analysts estimate the company is now worth between 4.8 and 7.8 billion dollars.

Groupon is also negotiating financing commitments with Fidelity Investments, T. Rowe Price and Morgan Stanley, according to the Times.

Founded in 2008, Groupon offers discounts to its more than 12 million members on retail goods and services, offering one localised deal a day.

Acquiring Groupon would have played into Google’s efforts to localise and personalise Internet searches and services, particularly when it comes to connecting customers with merchants.

Groupon reportedly spurned a two-billion-dollar buyout offer from fading Internet star Yahoo! earlier this year. It’s not the first time Yahoo! has been rebuffed by a growing internet superstar… ahem… Facebook. – AFP



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