FTD Group (FTD) sells flowers, so why is it merging with an Internet service provider? The seemingly odd pairing — it agreed to be...

Share story

FTD Group (FTD) sells flowers, so why is it merging with an Internet service provider?

The seemingly odd pairing — it agreed to be purchased by United Online (UNTD) for $800 million in stock and cash on April 30 — harks back to its founding in 1910 as Florists’ Telegraph Delivery, when 15 florists agreed to exchange orders for out-of-town deliveries.

The Internet has long since overtaken the telegraph. FTD — which later changed its name to Florists Transworld Delivery — now sells through its Web site and over the phone, transmitting orders to florists for processing and delivery.

It also charges florists to operate under the FTD brand, while offering them credit-card processing, advertising and other services.

Its third unit operates Interflora in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Many analysts expect United Online’s offer, worth about $15 per share, to be approved.