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Getty Agrees to Buy MediaVast to Add Celebrity Images

Getty Images Inc., the world's largest provider of stock pictures, agreed to buy MediaVast Inc. for $200 million in cash to expand its archive with photos and video of celebrities including Paris Hilton and Tiger Woods.

The acquisition will add 8.5 million images including entertainers and athletes to its collection, Seattle-based Getty said today in a statement. Spokeswoman Deb Trevino declined to comment on a statement from Jupitermedia Corp., another stock-art provider, about a possible $9.60-a-share takeover by Getty.

Acquiring new sources of video and still images will help Getty contend with a slowing print publication market, a prime source of sales. By adding footage included in MediaVast's WireImage archive, and its business of covering live events, Getty may be able to grab the lead in the growing market for stock video of celebrities, analyst Frederick Searby said.

``Competitive pressures coupled with a meaningful slowdown in print end markets'' are hampering Getty, Searby, with J.P. Morgan Securities in New York, said in a note to investors. Buying MediaVast ``should accelerate growth in Getty's editorial imagery business,'' said Searby. He rates the stock ``neutral.''

Getty shares fell 70 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $55.36 at 4:21 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The stock jumped 7.2 percent yesterday after the New York Post reported the potential purchase of Jupitermedia. Shares of Jupitermedia fell 83 cents, or 8.2 percent, to $9.24 in Nasdaq Stock Market composite trading. The stock jumped 26 percent yesterday.

2,400 Photographers

Customers of New York-based MediaVast include print and online media, broadcasters and other publishers, the company says on its Web site. The closely held company lists Time Warner Inc. among its primary investors.

MediaVast's WireImage business, focusing on entertainment events, was started in 2001 and works with more than 2,400 photographers. The company's founders and key executives have agreed to remain, Getty said.

Jupitermedia's Jupiterimages division sells illustrative material from a stock of more than 7 million images, the company says on its Web site. Jupitermedia is increasingly focused on selling images to online marketers, Searby wrote.

Easing Competitive Pressure

Acquiring Jupitermedia ``would eliminate an aggressive competitor on pricing,'' he wrote.

The discussions with Getty include the subsequent sale of other assets to a third party, Darien, Connecticut-based Jupitermedia said.

Alan Meckler, Jupitermedia's chief executive officer, agreed to buy the JupiterWeb division and related assets to be sold by Getty, if no third-party buyer steps forward with an acceptable offer, the company said.

Getty's Trevino, asked if the company disputes Jupitermedia's statement, said she ``wouldn't want to comment.''

Regulators may prevent Getty from acquiring Jupitermedia's image archive, wrote Kit Spring, a Stifel Nicolaus & Co. analyst in Denver. Spring, who rates Jupitermedia shares ``hold,'' said the acquisition would give Getty about 40 percent of the market for stock images used in advertising, newspapers and magazines.

Getty Images' pictures and other graphic materials are sold to customers in more than 100 countries, the company said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Cecile Daurat in New York at cdaurat@bloomberg.net; Ted Bunker in Boston at tbunker1@Bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Emma Moody at emoody@Bloomberg.net.

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