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RealTime IT News

Scoot, Vivendi JV to Produce Pan-European Venture

Scoot.com plc and Vivendi S.A. Wednesday inked a £200 million ($324 million) joint venture deal to bring its transaction services to continental Europe.

Scoot offers classified-style consumer transaction services in Europe accessible through wireless (including WAP), the Internet and digital TV applications. The company recently expanded its operations into Belgium. A second version of Scoot is in development, and is expected to be operational in April of next year.

The 50/50 venture is charged with launching Scoot in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal in the next three years. Vivendi will contribute the initial costs of £25 million ($40 million) by purchasing 15 million Scoot (SCOP) shares through a three-year convertible debenture.

The new company, which will be branded as Scoot, will be accessible nationally and internationally through a range of distribution channels which will allow users to connect to Scoot via PC, the GSM network, wireless application protocol (WAP), PDA, interactive TV, and other devices.

Vivendi said it chose Scoot as part of its multi-access portal strategy because the company has been early developer of interactive consumer transaction services which are device neutral, said Frank Boulben, Vivendi's vice president of interactive business development.

The venture will lean on Vivendi's assets in Europe, including telco Cegetel, cable TV company Canal+ and multimedia publisher Havas. The joint venture is also expected to eventually buy Scoot's stake and partnership in Benelux.

"This proposed alliance will enable Vivendi and Scoot to create a powerful, well positioned interactive consumer transaction service which is expected to cover at least 80 per cent of the European market within the next three years," said Robert Bonnier, Scoot's CEO.

"With the multi-dimensional transaction capabilities of the new Scoot V2 service, the joint venture will be able to concentrate its efforts on leveraging Vivendi's exciting assets in telecommunications, media and TV."

Scoot and Vivendi expect the deal to be finalized in the next two months.