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CMGI, PCCW Link Again in Asia Joint Venture

CMGI Inc. and Pacific Century CyberWorks Tuesday formed a second major collaboration for the development of Net business in Asia.

The new Hong Kong-based venture will operate as CMGI Asia, and will act as a vehicle to bring other CMGI (CMGI) operating companies into the region. The imports will enter into separate venture agreements, but with the clause that CMGI Asia will initially own 60 percent of the Asian version and the remaining 40 percent will be held by the new entrant.

Pacific Century (PCCLF) and CMGI already have four companies on the slate for introduction: the AltaVista portal, online marketer Engage Technologies (ENGA, multimedia entertainment company iCAST and payment service 1ClickCharge. New companies joining CMGI after this deal will also be candidates for debut through the CMGI Asia venture.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"Asia is the hottest emerging market for the growing Internet economy and our partnership with PCCW, furthered by the creation of CMGI Asia, places CMGI and its operating companies in an unrivaled position to take advantage of the Asian market opportunity," said David Wetherell, CMGI chairman and chief executive officer.

This is the second major commitment between the two companies, following on a $350 million equity swap in September that left each side with a minority stake in the other.

PCCW stock went soaring last month with rumors that Microsoft (MSFT) might join the party. In the same month, an actual partnership with Australian multimedia company Spike Networks did emerge from the PCCW table, with PCCW holding a 5 percent stake in Spike.

Later this year, PCCW is expected to launch the its broadband service in the Asia-Pacific region. Intel has also been cozy with PCCW, investing HK$389 million (US$50 million) in August and controlling an 8 percent stake through reorganization within Pacific Century Group, of which PCCW is the flagship operator. PCCW also bought 23 percent of SoftNet for $129 million in October.

PCCW was formed seven months ago by Richard Li, the younger son of Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, chairman of Cheung Kong and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.