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NEW YORK, Sept 12 – The promising market for Internet telephony heated up Monday as online auction giant eBay announced it was taking over the rapidly growing European firm Skype Technologies for more than 2.6 billion dollars.
The deal will make Skype’s youthful founders, Niklas Zennstroem, 39, of Sweden and 29-year-old Danish citizen Janus Friis, exceedingly rich men. Both are set to stay in charge of Skype after the takeover.
«Communications is at the heart of e-commerce and community,» said eBay chief executive Meg Whitman.
«By combining the two leading e-commerce franchises, eBay and PayPal, with the leader in Internet voice communications, we will create an extraordinarily powerful environment for business on the net,» she said.
The Luxembourg-based Skype has rapidly emerged as a leader in the market for Internet telephone calls under Zennstroem and Friis, who also founded the controversial online music swapping service KaZaA.
The three-year-old company claims to have 54 million subscribers in 225 countries and territories, mostly in Europe and Asia, and to be adding 150,000 users daily.(afp)