Microsoft latest purchase puts in on the map

Microsoft has confirmed on Wednesday that it has acquired the London based Online mapping company, Multimap for USD 50 million according to sources, although Times Online quoted up to USD 75 million shortly after the announcement was made public.

Its founder, Sean Phelan, who owns the majority of the business, stands at making more than GBP 12 million, with part of it being held by Virgin Media.

Multimap provides mapping technology - street-level maps and point-to-point directions - to several high profile websites like Ebay's Gumtree, Virgin, Sainsbury's and Foxtons.

It is also one of the 10 top visited websites in the UK with an average of nearly 200 million page views per month; the acquisition will see Multimap integrate Microsoft, as part of the Virtual Earth and Search teams in the software giant's Online Services Group.

The mapping sector has seen unprecedented growth fuelled by online services like Google Maps and Satellite Navigation Devices and this has led to a slew of acquisitions in 2007.

Tomtom recently fought over TeleAtlas with Rival Garmin while Mobile phone manufacturer Nokia acquired Navteq Corporation for USD 8.1 billion.