Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp, owner of the HSN home shopping-network, may buy Ask Jeeves Inc. for about $2 billion to add a Web-search engine to its Expedia and Citysearch Internet businesses, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the situation.

The acquisition, which may be announced today, would put New York-based IAC in competition with Yahoo! Inc., Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN in the market for advertisements linked to Web-search results.

Diller, 63, may be able to boost visitors to Ask Jeeves by linking it with IAC sites including and Evite. Purchasing Emeryville, California-based Ask Jeeves would supplement IAC's Internet-commerce revenue with Web-advertising sales. The U.S. market for ads linked to search results will more than triple to $12.6 billion by 2010, according to Minneapolis- based Piper Jaffray Cos.

"Search advertising revenue is the fastest-growing portion of Internet advertising revenue, which is the fastest growing segment of total advertising,'' said Laura Martin, an analyst with Soleil Securities in Pasadena, California. ``Barry Diller's background in media and advertising would create opportunities in Ask Jeeves that it wouldn't have on a stand-alone basis.''

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