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ninemsn Parent Company ecorp Announces Share Offer

Australian online media company ecorp Ltd., formerly Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd. (PBL) Online, Friday announced its intention to list on the Australian Stock Exchange.

The initial AUS$161 million share offer represents 20 percent of the company's issued capital, and the offer is only open to investors that are PBL shareholders or account holders in ecorp's online broking business, ShareTrade. The offer price will be AUS$1.20 per share.

On completion of the offer, there will be 670 million shares on issue, and at the price of AUS$1.20 per share, ecorp will have a market capitalisation of AUS$804 million (US$533 million).

ecorp is fully owned by media corporation Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd., and after the capital raising and listing, PBL will remain majority shareholder with 493 million shares.

The news of ecorp's intended listing rounds out a busy day for the organisation. Earlier today it announced it had acquired Australia and New Zealand's largest computerised network ticketing company, Ticketek.

ecorp will issue 43 million shares, worth around AUS$52 million (US$34 million), to Ticketek's current owner Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH), the private holding company of Australian media baron Kerry Packer. CPH is also a singificant shareholder in PBL. It will also make two further payments of AUS$5 million ($US3.3 million) if Ticketek achieves financial targets in 2001 and 2002.

"We believe that the [Ticketek] business will be best developed within ecorp, where the full potential of the online delivery of tickets and related products can be best achieved." said James Packer, CEO of CPH and Kerry Packer's son.

He added that CPH intends to transfer ownership of the shares from ecorp over to PBL "in a manner which will not result in any profit being made by CPH from any appreciation in the value of ecorp's shares." If CPH does transfer the shares PBL will hold 80 percent of ecorp.

ecorp currently holds a 50 percent interest in two joint ventures, ninemsn, in which it has partnered with Microsoft, and eBay Australia and New Zealand, with eBay Inc. The company also operates Online Broker Holdings (which trades as ShareTrade Australia Stockbroking), aside from its new control of Ticketek.

Eligible investors may participate in the offer from May 24 until June 8. Shares will be openly available on June 8, and ecorp anticipates sufficient demand that it has set the closure date two days later, on June 10.