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ICrossing Expands Into Europe

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NEW YORK ICrossing continues its expansion through the acquisition route with the purchase of German search and affiliate shop 3GNet.
 
The acquisition brings iCrossing a 70-person outfit that specializes in search engine optimization, along with paid search and affiliate marketing. 3GNet is based in Munich and has an office in Berlin. Financial terms were not disclosed.
 
The acquisition is the fifth in the past two years for iCrossing, which is backed by $120 million in financing. The agency has used earlier acquisitions of Newgate Internet (paid search) and Proxicom (Web development) to add capabilities to its roots as a search optimization firm. It also bought Spannerworks in February 2007, giving the company a base in London.
 
A move to Germany made sense, said iCrossing CEO Jeff Herzog, since it is the top market in mainland Europe.
 
"The U.K. by no means is a foothold into Europe," he said. "They're different markets that require a different approach."
 
3GNet will take on the iCrossing name and operate as its base in Germany and continental Europe. Herzog said iCrossing would move its Web development services to Europe this year, which he pointed to as evidence that the shop is operating as a single company. ICrossing has already brought Proxicom and Newgate under its banner and developed a single management structure.
 
"We're spending a lot of time and energy integrating these companies," said Don Scales, iCrossing's president. "We're taking the hard road and we know we're taking the hard road."
 
3GNet clients include Epson, which is an iCrossing client in the U.S., eBay and Esprit.
 
With the acquisition, iCrossing will have more than 200 employees in the U.K. and Germany. The addition of Proxicom and geographic expansion makes iCrossing more than a search shop, Herzog said.
 
"Our competitive set has clearly changed," he said. "We're seeing Avenue A, Digitas and the ad the holding companies as the set we're up against most these days."