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Yahoo! Inc has acquired Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Viaweb Inc in a stock transaction valued at roughly $48m. Viaweb is a privately-held company that develops software and reporting tools for the building and operation of internet commerce web sites. Yahoo! is using the purchase to bolster its merchant services program to provide small and medium sized businesses with the ability to create and host online storefronts. The company will be launching Yahoo! Store, based on Viaweb’s own service, which will offer fledgling web merchants a complete setup, design, hosting and promotional system. The service will include a suite of tracking and reporting tools that provide merchants with data about traffic and income sources. The Viaweb Store already claims 1,000 customers. Yahoo is licking it lips at a recent report from Forrester Research that predicts the market for electronic commerce software is likely to reach $3.8bn by 2002, up sharply from $121m in 1997. Under the terms of the deal, Yahoo! will issue 455,000 shares of common stock which – based on Friday’s closing price of $105 – values Viaweb at $47.78m. Yahoo! shares jumped $4.375 on Monday to close at $109.375.

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