News Corp is expected to announce today that it is to buy Jamba, the ringtone vendor that unleashed Crazy Frog on the world.
Rupert Murdoch's firm will secure a majority share in Jamba of 51 per cent in a purchase set at $187.5m, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Jamba (known as Jamster in the US) is the Berlin-based ringtone unit of US technology company VeriSign. It will be merged with News Corps' Mobizzo unit, which sells "mobisodes", short video clips of Fox TV shows, including 24.
It's a move that indicates News Corp's expansion into providing web-based media content, which will include ringtones, wallpaper, and clips from The Simpsons. Jamba will also sell content through Murdoch-owned social networking website MySpace.
Jamba will continue trading under the same name and News Corp's Lucy Hood will become chief executive of the merged company.
After buoyant sales from the success of Crazy Frog, Jamba's sales grew from $40m in 2003 to $500m last year, according to the Wall Street Journal. But Verisign chief executive Stratton Sclavos said this figure looks set to decline to $300m this year. ®