Facebook overtakes Google as the world’s most popular website

Facebook has overtaken Google as the world’s most popular website, with 837 million unique visitors in 2012, according to digital analytics group comScore.

Google, which entered the search engine market in the 1990s and quickly dominated the space, took second place, with 783 million unique visitors.

Of the top ten most visited sites, two are Chinese – QQ.com and search engine baidu.com.

YouTube ranks number three in the world, attracting 722 million visitors. The video-sharing platform was acquired by Google in 2006.

The highest ranking Microsoft site is live.com, which allows users to access various Microsoft services, such as Hotmail.

Microsoft’s rival Apple is the 16th most popular website in the world, with 172 million visitors.

Here is a list of the top ten most popular websites in the world:

1. facebook.com

2. google.com

3. youtube.com

4. yahoo.com ( 469.9m)

5. wikipedia.org (469.6m)

6. live.com (389.5m)

7. QQ.com (284.1m)

8. microsoft.com (271.7m)

9. baidu.com (268.7m)

10. msn.com (254.1m)


UK regional airline Flybe plans to acquire aircraft and routes from Ryanair

UK regional airline company Flybe Group Plc (LON:FLYB) said it had signed a deal under which it would acquire several aircraft and operating routes from Irish peer Ryanair Holdings Plc (LON:RYA), if the latter manages to successfully take over its rival Aer Lingus Group Plc (LON:AERL).

The planned transaction is part of a package of concessions sent to the European Commission (EC) by Ryanair in an attempt to finally obtain the regulator’s nod for its Aer Lingus buyout.

As part of the deal, Ryanair would form a new company, to be known as Flybe Ireland, and transfer to it a total of 43 European routes along with requisite number of slots and licences to operate them. In addition, the Irish company would contribute at least nine Airbus A320 aircraft and inject EUR100m (USD135.3m) in cash. In turn, Flybe will acquire the new company for EUR1m.

The move will only be carried out in the event that the EC clears Ryanair’s bid for Aer Lingus by 6 March 2013 and the transaction is completed in May. On the other hand, the Flybe Ireland deal is seen to close in October, after its potential buyer conducts due diligence and posts a circular to its own stockholders for approval. Flybe noted it has already received irrevocable acceptances representing 64% of the shareholders.

Yesterday, however, Aer Lingus’s CEO Christoph Mueller told journalists he expects the EC to once again block Ryanair’s takeover offer despite the proposed remedies. According to him, it is doubtful whether Flybe would be an independent competitor to Ryanair after such a move.

So far, European Union (EU) regulators had banned twice Ryanair’s effords to buy the 70% stake it does not already have in Aer Lingus. The latest offer of EUR1.30 per share values the target at EUR694m.

Carlyle completes TCW MBO from France’s Societe Generale

US asset manager The TCW Group Inc has completed its journey to independence after its management and The Carlyle Group LP (NASDAQ:CG) finalised the purchase of the business from French banking major Societe Generale SA (EPA:GLE).

The parties did not volunteer any information related to financial terms. The newly independent firm will be 40% owned by its managers and employees.

When the deal was announced in August 2012, Carlyle said that two of its investment funds and TCW’s management would provide equity for the acquisition, while debt financing would come from JPMorgan Securities LLC, BofA Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS).

TCW was advised by Morgan Stanley and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. Carlyle took counsel from BofA Merrill Lynch, Sandler O’Neill + Partners LP and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. Societe Generale employed the advisory services of JP Morgan Securities LLC.

TCW’s chairman Marc Stern described the completion of the deal as the start of a new journey for the company. With employees owning a significant stake in the business, the result will be better alignment of interests, while the asset management expertise and resources of Carlyle will help TCW sustain its growth, Stern said.