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Bumble marks first user growth decline since IPO on COVID-19 hit

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(Reuters) -Bumble Inc posted its first sequential decline in user growth since the dating app owner went public in February, as fresh pandemic restrictions crimped demand in some markets, sending its shares down over 9% in extended trading.

In the third quarter, total paying users fell 2% from the prior quarter to 2.9 million as the global Delta variant surge prompted renewed lockdowns, curtailing consumer spending on dating app subscriptions and in-app purchases.

Bumble's other dating app, Badoo, which is mostly used by the urban middle class segment, also saw user growth affected by the economic pressures brought on by the health crisis in some markets.

"Badoo operates in a large number of markets where the pandemic is still a significant challenge ... with differences in pace of recovery by region," Chief Executive Officer Whitney Herd said in a post-earnings call.

"While many key markets such as Russia and Brazil have shown strong growth in both paying users and user revenue, other markets like France and Italy have lagged."

Bumble's shares have lost about 32% since its market debut in February.

Despite the slowdown, Texas-based Bumble raised its full-year revenue forecast and said it remained well-positioned for the upcoming quarter as it continues to expand internationally. Rival Match Group, however, projected fourth-quarter revenue below estimates as COVID-19 hit the Tinder owner's business in Asia.

Bumble expects current-quarter revenue between $208 million and $211 million, above analysts' estimates of $206.0 million, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Total revenue was $200.5 million in the third quarter, compared with estimates of $198.8 million.

(Reporting by Tiyashi Datta, Nilanjana Basu and Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)

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