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Interest hots up for Cupid's casual dating sites

(Reuters) - Internet dating site Cupid Plc said a number of potential suitors have expressed interest in its casual dating sites, such as benaughty.com and flirt.com.

Cupid said last month that it had been approached to sell its casual dating websites and was considering a range of approaches.

Earlier this month, a media report said co-founder Max Polyako was on the verge of bidding 40 million pounds ($61.86 million) for Cupid's casual dating business.

Cupid declined to comment.

The company offers several online dating services depending on whether users are seeking serious relationships or something more casual. It markets to people of different age groups, cultures and social interests, from its mature relationship website loveagain.com to its cheeky girlsdateforfree.com.

Cupid also serves its customers through smartphone applications such as cupid.com, which helps users find other single people at nearby locations.

Active users for Cupid's services rose 18 percent to 19.2 million in 2012 from the year earlier. Its major markets are the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Ireland, which contribute over half its profit.

The company said on Friday that it expects higher marketing costs to hit the first half. Marketing expenses are the largest cost for Cupid, which has been looking to build a stronger brand identity for its key products and expand in countries such as India and Brazil.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, for the six months ending June 30 is estimated to be about 2.5 million pounds. Cupid reported adjusted EBITDA of 5.9 million pounds for the same period last year.

Cupid, which faced media allegations earlier this year about the methods it used to encourage people to buy subscriptions, said an independent review of its member database and operating practices was due to be completed by the end of June.

The company said it has also undertaken a separate review by a legal team and implemented several recommendations, including clearer guidelines for customer service staff interactions.

Shares in the company were down 3 percent at 66.8 pence at 0954 GMT on Friday on the London Stock Exchange. They have lost roughly two-thirds of their value so far this year. ($1 = 0.6466 British pounds)

(Reporting by Tasim Zahid in Bangalore, Writing by Brenton Cordeiro,; Editing by Supriya Kurane)

(This story corrects to remove reference to "crazy blind date" smartphone application in paragraph 6, a product from OKCupid, an unrelated firm)

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