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Czech Telecom Acquires Internet Agency M.I.A.

Czech telecom operator Czech Telecom has acquired local Internet company M.I.A. for undisclosed sum.

M.I.A. is a media, advertising and marketing agency running three important Web sites: the portal and search engine Zmije (the Viper); daily newspaper and magazine aggregator Trafika (The Newsstand); and tech-oriented Webzine Svet namodro (Bluish World).

The network has also captured the largest chunk of the marketshare for Internet advertisement in the Czech Republic. With the total revenue of Kc 16 million ($0.45 million) it controls some 25 percent of the market.

Czech Telecom, however, is not interested in M.I.A. because of its advertisement sales, and not only because of the low volume of revenue compared to its preliminary 1999 revenues of Kc 51.9 billion ($1.45 billion) total revenue. The purchase is a sign of Czech Telecom's increasing focus on the Internet, and its expectation that M.I.A. can build an attractive e-commerce and ISP customer portal.

M.I.A. is currently negotiating the takeover of several smaller Czech Internet companies.

"We want to improve the portfolio of our content," Daniel Docekal, technical director of M.I.A., acknowledged.

Bessel Kok, acting head of Czech Telecom, said that a new Internet-oriented business group within Czech Telecom is currently in its the formative process, and will likely be called Value Added Services Group. Czech Telecom's ISP business, Internet On Line, and M.I.A. will both constitute parts of this new unit. Rumors are already stirring about a potential sale, spinoff or flotation of this new company.

"You never know what the future may bring," said Kok, in response to questions about these possibilities.