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(Adds details on Hyperconnect's apps, background)
Feb 9 (Reuters) - Match Group Inc has agreed to buySoftbank Group-backed South Korean social media firmHyperconnect for $1.73 billion, as the owner of Tinder and Hingelooks beyond romantic connections to help users make friendsacross geographies.
The cash-and-stock deal announced by the companies onTuesday marks the biggest acquisition deal so far by Match,which has kept users hooked to its offerings amid the COVID-19pandemic by adding a slew of new features.
Seoul-based Hyperconnect was launched in 2014 and offersmainly two apps, Azar and Hakuna Live.
Azar, which has reported 540 million cumulative downloads sofar, allows users to connect with others from around the worldand instantly translates voice and text messages.
Hakuna Live, a live streaming app that allows a group ofpeople to connect through video and audio broadcasts, has beendownloaded more than 23 million times, with strong momentum inSouth Korea and Japan.
"With more than 75% of usage and revenue coming from marketsspread across Asia, their product suite and regional footprintsquarely complements our own," Match Group Chief ExecutiveOfficer Shar Dubey said.
Match last week said Japan had become its second-highestgrossing market behind the United States, with revenue in theAsian country surging more than 600% in the past five years.
Hyperconnect is profitable, the companies said, adding thatit reported a 50% jump in 2020 revenue to more than $200million.
Match's flagship app Tinder, with 66 million average monthlyactive users, dominated the dating market worldwide with 53.8%of the market share during the final quarter of 2020, accordingto analytics firm Apptopia.
The deal with Hyperconnect is expected to close in thesecond quarter of 2021, and Match looks to fund the cash portionthrough cash on hand and existing debt.(Reporting by Tiyashi Datta and Noor Zainab Hussain inBengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)