Microsoft is buying a Munich, Germany-based Web comparison shopping site and its parent company for about $486 million in cash. The software giant says...

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SEATTLE — Microsoft is buying a Munich, Germany-based Web comparison shopping site and its parent company for about $486 million in cash.

The software giant says the acquisition of Greenfield Online, which owns Ciao, a collection of European price-comparison, shopping and consumer review sites, will boost its search presence in Europe. Ciao operates in Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands and Sweden.

The company says the Ciao sites get more than 26 million unique visitors a month, 4.4 million of them in Germany, and so far has generated more than 5 million product reviews. Cio was founded in 1999. Greenfield paid $154 million for it in 2005.

Greenfield shareholders will get $17.50 a share, Microsoft said today. The transaction is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2008.

Ciao’s features will become part of Microsoft’s Live Search program.

“Our goal is to create simple applications for the search areas with the biggest demand,” Dorothee Ritz, Microsoft’s general manager for consumer and online in Germany, said on a conference call. “We have the financial means to expand in this area both organically and through acquisitions.”

Microsoft said it has found a buyer it did not identify for Greenfield’s Internet Survey Solutions business.

Microsoft lags market leader Google in search traffic and Web advertising revenue. In recent months, the company has focused on improving its sites for searches that lead to shopping and travel. It failed in its $45 billion bid to buy Yahoo earlier this year.