April 8, 2014, 4:47 PM

Bazaarvoice gives up on its merger with PowerReviews

In response to losing an antitrust suit after buying PowerReviews—Bazaarvoice’s top competitor in online ratings and reviews—for $168.2 million in 2012, Bazaarvoice is selling that part of the business to competitor Viewpoints, it announced today. The deal, which is still subject to court approval, is expected to close this summer.

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Nearly two years after announcing plans to buy its biggest rival, Bazaarvoice Inc. announced today it was giving up on its attempt to acquire PowerReviews. The announcement follows a federal court ruling in January that the proposed merger would violate antitrust laws.

Bazaarvoice said today it has reached an agreement to sell its unit that contains virtually all the assets it acquired in the PowerReviews acquisition to competitor Viewpoints LLC. Terms of deal were not disclosed. Bazaarvoice says it expects the sale to close in the first quarter of fiscal 2015, which falls around July this year.

Bazaarvoice purchased PowerReviews in 2012 for $168.2 million. The acquisition gave the company more than 800 product ratings and reviews clients in the United States, including about 350 former PowerReviews clients, the U.S. Justice Department said in its filings as part of its lawsuit to block the acquisition.

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which ruled on the antitrust suit, still needs to approve the sale of PowerReviews to Viewpoints, Bazaarvoice says. The two companies announced today that they had entered into a non-binding letter of intent to the transfer of assets.

“Since the district court issued its ruling in favor of the Department of Justice, we have been engaged in a thoughtful process to identify and reach agreement with an appropriate entity to which we could divest the PowerReviews business consistent with the court’s decision and views expressed by the [Department of Justice],” says Gene Austin, CEO and president of Bazaarvoice. “Viewpoints is an established, committed ratings and reviews provider with experience serving both the consumer and business markets. After a thorough assessment, we believe this divestiture proposal achieves the best possible outcome for our clients, shareholders, and employees.”

Matt Moog, founder and CEO of Viewpoints LLC, says there should be no interruption of service to PowerReviews customers during the transition, as all of PowerReviews’ technical and support staff will move over to his company as part of the acquisition. Viewpoints plans to invest “millions” in the PowerReviews platform in order to create a network for syndicating online ratings and reviews content more easily between manufacturers, retailers and social media, he adds. Doing so will meet the Justice Department’s requirements for there to be more choice in how retailers and manufactures are able to spread and amplify their customer ratings and reviews online, he says.

“We are buying this company because the technology is so strong and the team is so strong, and we intend to make significant investments in it,” Moog says. “The opportunity to add the PowerReviews platform alongside our recently-launched Viewpoints Pulse service will extend our ability to serve the enterprise market, which promises to create significant additional value for brands and their end customers as we scale our ability to collect reviews of their products and services.”

Bazaarvoice has 280 clients listed among merchants in the Internet Retailer 2013 Top 500 Guide. Viewpoints has one. Among some 40 other similar providers listed in the guide, the vendor with the next highest total is BizRate, with eight clients.

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