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Fairfax snares netus for undisclosed sum

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AAP

2012-12-21

Fairfax Media has snapped up technology investment company netus in a move to help it expand its digital offerings.

Set up by former Microsoft executive Daniel Petre and eBay Australia's ex boss Alison Deans in 2005, netus controls digital publisher Allure Media and holds a 27 per cent stake in TV production company The Video Network.

Fairfax on Friday would not reveal how much it paid for netus, but said both Mr Petre and Ms Deans will remain with the company once the takeover is complete.

The deal comes four days after Fairfax sold out of its best-performing digital asset, the New Zealand online auction website Trade Me, for $616 million.

Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood said continuing the growth of Fairfax's digital assets was central to the troubled media company's strategy.

"We are excited at the opportunity to work with netus to develop new creative and digital opportunities for Fairfax," he said in a statement.

"Daniel and Alison have a long and successful track record.

"This will bolster Fairfax's digital experience and expertise."

Mr Petre said he and Ms Deans would work on finding strategic acquisitions for Fairfax and provide advice on ways to develop the company's existing digital businesses.

"Netus has had a very successful first seven years and we are looking forward to continuing to find unique investment opportunities in the digital space, now under the ownership of Fairfax," Mr Petre said.

Netus has made nine key investments since 2006, including ReachLocal, Travel.com and Switchwise.

It's average internal rate of return across its investment portfolio was more than 50 per cent.

Netus' former joint venture partner was Fairfax's rival News Limited, which helped set up the company.

But netus bought News Ltd's 50 per cent stake in May 2012.

Fairfax shares were 0.75 of a cent lower at 47.75 cents at 1513 AEDT.