Friendster sold to Malaysian e-payment co

Asia’s preferred social networking site Friendster has been acquired by Malaysian company MOL Global for an undisclosed sum. The long-expected sale has been in negotiation for months with speculation suggesting that the price tag was as high as $100 million (€67 m).
Following the acquisition, the operations of MOL and Friendster will be combined to create what they claim will be Asia’s largest end-to-end content, distribution and commerce network, pairing MOL’s offline retail channel partners and payment platform with Friendster’s large online footprint, social network and user community in Asia.
MOL Global is an affiliate of MOL AccessPortal Berhad, which operates payment systems in Asia.
The main shareholder of MOL is Tan Sri Vincent Tan, the CEO of Berjaya Corporation Berhad, a Malaysian conglomerate that has annual revenues over $1.8 billion.
The new owners are promising a “highly intuitive and successful social media site and online marketing channel with an integrated payment platform and content network which includes games, goods, gifts, music and video.
“We are creating a unique company that will be well positioned to provide content to a huge, regional user base, here in southeast Asia,” said Ganesh Kumar Bangah, president and chief executive officer of MOL.
The combined entity will maintain offices in various locations, around the world, including Mountain View, California, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore.
Friendster CEO Richard Kimber will move aside for Bangah, who will take the reins of the combined entity while Kimber will become non-executive chairman.
MOL has a network of 500,000 physical and virtual payment channels worldwide to collect payments for content and services. Its core markets are Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and India and has relationships with over 70 online game publishers.
Kimber said “the new combined entity gives Friendster the kind of financial backing, retail distribution, and e-commerce infrastructure that will enable us to accelerate our strategy and create a locally relevant, fun experience for our users in Asia, both on and offline.”
The sale follows on from a relationship struck between the two companies in October where MOL was appointed to provide an integrated payments platform, as a foundation for The Friendster Wallet and The Friendster Gift Shop, for Friendster’s users.