Microsoft Pays Premium for Online Ad Firm

Microsoft Corp. is spending $6 billion to acquire the online-advertising firm aQuantive Inc. The offer is a huge premium over aQuantive's Thursday closing stock price — a situation that a Microsoft official said is because "we believe it's exactly the right company to buy." Microsoft is playing catch-up in the quickly growing Internet advertising field.

The software company has been trying to plant itself firmly into the online world but has so far lagged behind search giant Google and Web portal Yahoo. The steep price tag reflects the heated battle between major Internet players for a slice of the growing online advertising business.

The acquisition is part of consolidation all across the online advertising market. Last month, Google purchased DoubleClick for more than $3 billion, and Yahoo followed by snatching up the 80 percent of RightMedia that it did not already own.

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