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Accenture (NYSE: ACN ) is angling to become a bigger player in eCommerce -- vicariously.
While not venturing into selling widgets (or virtual widgets) over the Internet itself, the international IT consulting firm bolstered its ability to help other companies practice eCommerce Friday, when it announced a deal to buy Hong Kong-based Acquity Group (UNKNOWN: AQ.DL2 ) for approximately $316 million.
Acquity Group specializes in advising companies on strategy, digital marketing, and technical services in order to improve both their brands eCommerce businesses. Accenture intends to merge the new subsidiary into its existing Accenture Interactive business.
The purchase price of $13 per American Depositary Share of the company, amounts to a huge premium over the $5.96 share price at which Acquity closed on Friday -- and sparked an immediate rally in the shares after markets closed, but before the weekend intervened. In all, after-hours trading saw Acquity shares shoot up 110% to as high as $12.55 per ADS.
The proposed buyout price values Acquity shares at 2.2 times its $141 million in sales from last year, a premium to the 1.8-times-sales valuation of Accenture's own shares. However, after putting up 32% year-over-year sales growth in 2012, Acquity appears to be growing nearly three times as fast as the company that's acquiring it. Regardless, after announcing the deal late Friday, Accenture shares shed some of the gains they had made earlier in the day, and fell 0.4% after hours to about $81.93.