Getty/Jupiter Media Talks Break Off

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By: Daryl Lang/PDN Online

Getty Images and Jupitermedia have called off the wedding, apparently.

Late last month, Jupitermedia confirmed rumors that it was in talks to sell its image division to Getty, a move that would have united the number 1 and 3 stock photo agencies. But Wednesday, Jupiter released a brief statement saying, “These discussions between Jupitermedia and Getty Images have now terminated.”

As soon as the news was out, Jupitermedia’s share price sank like a rock, diving 13 percent on the Nasdaq.

The end of the Getty talks may open the door for another company to acquire or merge with Jupiterimages. One possible suitor is Corbis, the second-largest stock agency after Getty.

Corbis responded to the earlier news of the Getty-Jupiter talks with a statement refusing to say whether it was interested in Jupiterimages. “Given the dynamic nature of this industry and our history of making strategic acquisitions, we will continue to make them when they advance our business strategy,” the Corbis statement said.

Getty chief financial officer Tom Oberdorf declined to speak in detail about Jupitermedia when he was asked about it at an investor presentation Tuesday. But he betrayed no hints that the deal was about to fall through.

More on the Jupitermedia picture may become clear Thursday afternoon, when the company is set to release its financial report for the last quarter of 2006, ahead of its quarterly earnings call Friday.

Separately, Getty is proceeding with its previously announced $202 million acquisition of MediaVast, owner of WireImage.

Plans to integrate MediaVast and Getty are in the works but not finalized, according to spokespeople from both companies. Getty spokesperson Deb Trevino says Getty has no plans to eliminate any WireImage license models or to change pricing.

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