Overture Services is to acquire search technology company AltaVista for $140 million in cash and stock.

Overture offers a service where companies bid to have their advertisements displayed among search results at sites operated by Yahoo, MSN and others. Buying AltaVista will help Overture enhance those services, it expects.

Overture also has its eye on the AltaVista Web site, which it will use to test out new search products and marketing services for its advertisers in a "live" setting, the company said.

AltaVista's search technology uses algorithms to crawl the Web and track down results for end users. The company offers "paid inclusion" services that ensure a business's Web sites are included in the results. Overture said it plans to enhance those services.

AltaVista, established in 1995, was a pioneer in Internet search technology. With headquarters in Palo Alto, California, it has about 250 employees worldwide and offers search results in 25 languages. AltaVista is a majority-owned operating company of CMGI Inc.

Subject to customary approvals and "certain other conditions", the purchase is expected to close in April and be accretive to Overture's earnings by mid-2004, the company said. The company will pay for AltaVista with Overture common stock currently valued at $80 million plus $60 million in cash.