United Online Plans Split With FTD

It looks like the odd marriage between United Online's communications, online content and media businesses with FTD, the company's flower delivery service, is about to end, after the company said Wednesday afternoon that its board has approved a plan to split the two into two, independent public traded companies. According to United Online, it will split the domestic and international operations of FTD and Interflora into one company, with the remainder of the firms--which includes brands such as Memory Lane, Classmates, MyPoints, NetZero, Juno, and others--into another company. In a statement, CEO Mark Goldston said it is "in the best interests" of the firm and its stockholders to separate the businesses.

United Online said it would structure the spin-off of FTD as a tax-free, pro rata distribution to United Online stockholders, in an even split between the two businesses. The strange marriage of FTD and United Online was sealed in 2008, when United Online--using the cash cow it had at the time from dial up Internet--to buy something more substantial and not subject to the same shrinking subscriber count, which was FTD. At that time, United Online said the buy would give it significant increase in scale and diversification in its business, which had been seeing a slow drawdown as people shifted to broadband access. United Online said it has retained Moelis & Company LLC in the move, with the financial advisor also considering "strategic review of alternatives" for its content and media and communications business.