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AAPT & AOL In JV To Take On Australia

Australia's number 3 ranked telco AAPT and America Online announced a 50/50 joint venture to operate AOL Australia Thursday morning.

AOL Australia will maintain exclusive rights to offer AOL (AOL) and Compuserve services in Australia and now utilize AAPT's telecommunications infrastructure.

The announcement comes more than a week after AAPT announced it was in discussions with AOL. That announcement quickly pushed AAPT's stock price up from below $9 to a high of $11.15 last week. AAPT stock had eased back below $10 at close on Wednesday but should jump around until details of the joint venture are disclosed at a briefing in Sydney at 1300 (AET) Thursday.

As part of the joint venture, AOL Australia will also launch a new wireless Internet portal using AOL's wireless technologies to deliver content services to the wireless market. Among the services will be consumer content for AAPT's CDMA cellular network.

"The joint venture will provide AAPT with a tremendous opportunity to develop new and substantial consumer markets and revenue by cross-selling and packaging AAPT retail products and services, such as CDMA and wireless Internet, to our combined customer base," said AAPT CEO Larry Williams in a release to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).

Carol Veriga is stepping down from the position of AOL Australia managing director. Brett Wayn, currently director of AOL Australia content and programming will take over the day to day running joint venture as general manager.