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AOL UK, Wal-Mart Europe Take Joint Stake in ShopSmart

[London, ENGLAND] AOL UK and Wal-Mart Europe announced Wednesday a four-year strategic marketing agreement and a joint stake in shopping portal ShopSmart.com.

As part of the deal, Wal-Mart will distribute AOL disks in its 240 ASDA stores in the U.K., while AOL UK will integrate ASDA into its shopping, interests and lifestyle channels as a preferred food and drink retailer.

AOL UK and ASDA will jointly take a 22.5 percent stake in ShopSmart.com, the U.K's number three site retail site -- Amazon (.com and .co.uk) being numbers one and two.

ASDA will transfer its shopping comparison facility Valuemad to ShopSmart, which in turn becomes the exclusive price comparison service on AOL UK and Germany. In addition, ShopSmart.com will get continuous exposure in ASDA's U.K. stores and Wal-Mart's German stores.

"From 'bricks' to 'clicks' this deal brings together three companies passionate about building their businesses through an obsession with the needs of their customers," commented ASDA and Wal-Mart Europe Chief Executive and President Alan Leighton.

AOL UK Managing Director Karen Thomson reported "incredible momentum and member growth" for AOL UK at the present, and said the deal with Wal-Mart would "accelerate that growth dramatically."

The person most likely to be satisfied by the deal, ShopSmart Chief Executive Officer Daniel Gestetner, was less hyperbolic in his language.

"This agreement will bring the ShopSmart brand to new and experienced users in both the U.K. and Germany. We are convinced that it will drive our growth in both countries through exclusive in-store promotion in ASDA and Wal-Mart, along with integration into AOL Europe," said Gestetner.

Launched in 1998, ShopSmart.com introduced comparative shopping in April 1999, and provides users with editorial ratings for shops. It has extended its reach from the U.K. by launching services in both Germany and Sweden.



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