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Groupon Finalizes $260 Million Deal for Ticket Monster, LivingSocial's Korean Business

The deal should give Groupon's discount product business a boost in Asia.

Juan Camilo Bernal / Shutterstock
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Groupon announced Thursday that it had closed its acquisition of Ticket Monster, the Korean deals company owned by LivingSocial. Groupon said it paid $260 million in total for Ticket Monster — $160 million in stock and $100 million in cash.

A look at Ticket Monster’s financials suggest that Groupon didn’t acquire it for the business it is now, but for what it thinks it can be down the line.

The company, which launched in 2010 and was acquired by LivingSocial in 2011, registered an operating loss of nearly $39 million on $78.5 million in revenue in the first nine months of 2013, Groupon said. That said, nearly all of the loss can be attributed to stock-based compensation and other non-cash expenses.

“Excluding these non-cash items, the company was about break-even on an adjusted EBITDA basis,” Groupon said in a filing. “This is quite an accomplishment for a company that is not yet four years old.”

LivingSocial’s current model also comes with thinner margins than Groupon’s overall business. While Groupon built its foundation on discount offerings to local service businesses, Ticket Monster has relied more on the discounted sales of physical products. About 65 percent of its offerings are products, another 20 percent to 25 percent are local-business deals, and the remainder are travel deals, the filing said. For comparison’s sake, Groupon’s Goods product business accounted for about 40 percent of its total revenue in the third quarter.

Since product sales typically generate thinner margins than local deals, Ticket Monster’s “take rate” — or the cut of total billings that it keeps — is significantly lower than Groupon’s overall. Groupon said it will work with the company to strengthen those rates.

Ticket Monster had about 1,000 employees at the time of acquisition, though it’s not clear how many Groupon will hold onto.

LivingSocial will be able to sell the Groupon shares it receives in the deal, with some restrictions.

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