Bazaarvoice Agrees to Sell PowerReviews in Antitrust Suit

Bazaarvoice Inc., the maker of online product-review software, agreed to sell assets obtained in its $168 million purchase of PowerReviews Inc. after the U.S. successfully sued for antitrust violations.

The Justice Department claimed the 2012 deal would erode competition in the market for online ratings-and-review software and raise prices for retailers and manufacturers. After a judge in January sided with the U.S., the government said the proper remedy would be a sale. Bazaarvoice’s customers include Best Buy Co., Costco Wholesale Corp. and Crate & Barrel.

The agreement announced today will undo the illegal acquisition and resolve the government’s case, the Justice Department said. Under an April 8 letter of intent, Viewpoints LLC would acquire the Bazaarvoice unit that holds the PowerReviews assets, the company said in a statement.

“We are happy to have brought this litigation to a conclusion,” Gene Austin, the chief executive officer of Austin, Texas-based Bazaarvoice, said in the statement.

The company is required to provide syndication services to the buyer of PowerReviews for four years so the new company can build a customer base and develop its own network, the Justice Department said in an e-mail. Bazaarvoice must also waive trade-secret restrictions for employees hired by the buyer and let customers switch to the new company without penalty.

During a nonjury trial in October in San Francisco, Justice Department attorneys said Bazaarvoice executives sought the PowerReviews acquisition to diminish competition and eventually raise prices. Many customers faced higher prices after the deal was completed, the government said.

The divestiture agreement is subject to approval by the San Francisco court.

The case is U.S. v. Bazaarvoice Inc., 13-cv-00133, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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