LONDON, March 13 /PRNewswire/ --

- Proceeds of US$140 Million Represent Nine Times Original Investment

Balderton Capital, the leading European venture capital firm, is pleased to announce that it has entered into an agreement to sell its 15.7% stake in Bebo ( to AOL, which is to acquire the global social media network. The proceeds of the sale due to Balderton Capital are approximately US$140 million, more than nine times the original sum invested.

These returns make Bebo one of the most successful European internet investments of recent years. Another Balderton investment, MySQL, the fast-growing open source database company, was recently sold to Sun Microsystems for a price of approximately US$1 billion.

Balderton Capital is the only institutional investor in Bebo. It provided first-round financing of US$15 million in May 2006 to assist Bebo to develop its business model. Balderton has been Bebo's strategic partner, assisting the company to become the leading networking site in the UK and Ireland and one of the largest social networks worldwide. Founded in 2005 in California, Bebo has 11 million unique users in the UK alone, and more than 40 million members in total.

Barry Maloney, one of the partners in Balderton Capital, and a director of Bebo since May 2006, said: "We got involved in an exciting and competitive investment in Bebo because we believed in the social networking space and the fact that Bebo was positioned for exponential growth. Our expectations for Bebo have been exceeded in a relatively short period of time, and today's transaction with AOL has delivered an exceptional return on our original investment in 2006.

"We wish the company continued success under its new ownership, and would like to congratulate the founders Michael and Xochi Birch, Joanna Shields, President of Bebo, and her management team. We are pleased that Joanna will continue to run the business for AOL, one of the world's great media companies.

"This investment is what Balderton does best: back entrepreneurs with cash and expertise, working in partnership to help to develop the founders' dreams and to deliver great returns for stakeholders."

About Balderton Capital

Balderton Capital is one of Europe's largest venture capital firms, committed to finding and helping talented entrepreneurs build great companies. Based in London, it manages approximately US$ 1.5 billion in committed venture capital.

Since 2000, Balderton has invested in over 70 companies across a wide variety of technology sectors and geographies, including throughout Europe, and in the US and China. Notable investments include Bebo (the leading social networking site), Betfair (online betting exchange), Codemasters (video games developer and publisher), Habbo Hotel (teen social networking site), MySQL (open-source database business) and Setanta Sports (the European sports broadcaster).

For more information, please contact: UK and international media: Powerscourt (PR adviser to Balderton Capital), Rory Godson/Paul Durman/Keith Brookbank, Phone: +44-207-250-1446; Irish media, Drury Communications, Paddy Hughes/Billy Murphy, Phone: +353-1-260-5000