Babylon Puts Out Feelers to Acquire Startup myThings

News of talks comes days after reports that Perion Network is eyeing the digital ad firm.

Noam Lanir, the controlling shareholder of online translation company Babylon, has held preliminary talks on acquiring digitial advertising startup myThings, threatening a bidding war with Perion Network.

Lanir, whose company has some 200 million shekels ($57.5 million) in cash, has held discussions with Benny Arbel, the founder and CEO of myThings, just days after TheMarker reported that Perion was interested in buying the startup at a $120 million valuation. The deal would involve a mix of cash and Perion shares.

But on Monday, Lanir denied he was trying to go behind Perion’s back. “I don’t have any plans to hijack the Perion deal. To the best of my knowledge, they haven’t completed an agreement and there’s only a 5% chance that Babylon will enter into an agreement at all,” he told TheMarker.

“I’m a good friend of Arbel’s. We served together in the army and he works in the building next to mine. But I must repeat, we’re talking about preliminaries. We haven’t begun official negotiations. We’ve simply exchanged ideas as friends often do.”

Babylon had a particularly bad year in 2013. Yahoo and Google, the company’s two biggest business partners, both complained about Babylon’s business practices, and Google stopped doing business with it. Babylon’s shares plunged, forcing it to end a planned merger with IronSource.

Babylon, whose stock rose 1.1% to 8.10 shekels in Tel Aviv on Monday, is now searching for new opportunities. Its share price has steadied, giving it a market capitalization of just over 404 million shekels.

MyThings provides so-called retargeting services to large retailers, which lets them identify online users’ interests in order to target advertising.

MyThings tracks users' surfing of large e-commerce sites and collects data on the products they look at. Unlike other targeting services, the company can identify users across different websites and collect targeting data from all of them.

MyThings’ clients are largely in Europe, including Britain’s Carphone Warehouse and German apparel and shoe retailer Zalando.

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