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BT Takes 50 Percent Stake in Excite UK

British Telecommunications PLC announced Wednesday it was paying $10 million for a 50 percent stake in Excite's UK subsidiary, Excite UK.

The deal is expected to generate more revenue from BT's Internet advertising and transaction units and will supplement its Internet access business. BT plans to capitalize on Excite's online marketing and sales expertise.

Excite UK said it will gain benefits such as increased access to one of the fastest growing markets in Europe and utilizing BT's technology in the local UK market.

Excite UK will also market Excite Click, powered by BTClick, a combined pay-as-you-surf UK Internet access service and Web guide, now available on the Excite UK site.

The Excite UK hub has 12 content categories, including news, music, sports and search capabilities. Other features include free Web-based e-mail, communities and shopping.

BT's Internet offerings include BT Internet, its dial-up Internet access service, content through the joint venture company LineOne, online services through BT Click+, multimedia kiosks and "Open," the interactive TV service provided by British Interactive Broadcasting.

"Taking a 50 percent share in Excite UK demonstrates BT's commitment to the Internet industry and underlines our ambition to help grow the market and further improve our position within it," John Swingewood, BT Internet and multimedia director.

"BT has already announced a number of industry alliances and will continue to seek out further strategic partnerships. "BT has been very successful in offering Internet access services and Excite UK further extends our reach into the important advertising and transactional sectors.

Earlier this month BT teamed with Yahoo!, offering the Yahoo! Click Internet service, in which BT will provide users with Net access and Web navigation through Yahoo!'s Web directory. That service is slated to launch at the end of the month and will be accessible through the Yahoo! UK & Ireland Web site.

"Our joint venture with BT continues our international strategy of choosing the best local partner in each market where we want to establish our business," said George Bell, chief executive officer of Excite.

"Our expertise in providing compelling, personalized content, married with BT's established reputation with UK consumers, enables us to create a joint venture with Excite UK that has the potential to take a leading position in the growing UK Internet market. The UK joint venture follows Excite's existing international joint ventures in Australia, Japan and Italy with leading local companies in each market."



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