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Software giant Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) announced on Friday that it has agreed to acquire Web-based survey company Greenfield Online Inc. (SRVY) and its subsidiary Ciao GmbH - a European based online-shopping portal with websites in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Sweden. The transaction isvalued at approximately $486 million.

Greenfield said it entered into a merger agreement to be acquired by Microsoft, via a cash tender offer for $17.50 per share, representing a premium of nearly 10% over Greenfield’s closing share price on August 25. This deal betters an earlier proposal made by Quadrangle Group to acquire the company for $15.50 a share.

Greenfield Online’s President and Chief Executive Officer said:

We are pleased to deliver additional value to our stockholders through this superior offer from Microsoft. We are excited about working with one of the world’s leading corporations to effectuate a smooth transition in both our comparison shopping and global ISS businesses.

Microsoft said it will sell to an unnamed financial buyer Greenfield’s Internet survey solutions [ISS] business, which accounts for about 75% of the company’s overall revenue.

Greenfield, immediately prior to entry into the merger agreement with Microsoft, terminated its previously announced merger agreement with affiliates of Quadrangle Group LLC. Subsequent to the termination of the Quadrangle merger agreement, Greenfield Online is required to pay Quadrangle a $5 million fee.

The merger of Greenfield Online and Microsoft is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2008.

This is Microsoft’s first major deal since failing to acquire Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO). The Redmond, Washington-based company continues to look for ways and the right strategy to catch Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG), with the expectation of boosting its Internet business.

Source: Microsoft Acquires Greenfield Online, Bolsters European Search and eCommerce