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Skandia Acquires Stake in Fact Based Communications

[London, ENGLAND] Swedish investment company Skandia Media Invest (SMI) announced Tuesday that it plans to put US $8.36 million into Fact Based Communications Ltd. (FBC), a European content provider for TV, Web and wireless applications.

The injection of capital will enable FBC to embark on a major business expansion, say the two firms. FBC and its backers will explore synergies to market FBC's product across Europe, especially in Spain, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, France, Germany and the U.K.

Michael Werner, chief executive of Skandia Media Invest, claimed that FBC was the foremost company in Europe to offer sophisticated financial information to private individuals over both TV and the Internet.

"It is our belief that financial information to private individuals will grow interactive TV in much the same manner that it has impacted the growth of the Internet, being one of the primary drivers of consumer acceptance of interactive TV," said Werner.

The FBC investment is intended to accelerate SMI's strategy of cross-fertilizing the pan-European services contained in its portfolio. In the last eight months, SMI put money into companies in Spain, France, the U.K. and Italy.

SMI is the media investment arm of Skandia, one of Europe's top financial services groups, and has deep pockets for financing new media. Skandia as a whole has over EUR 100 billion (US $94 billion) of assets under its management.

FBC is majority shareholder in Italian personal finance web site MiaEconomia.it, a joint venture with Matrix -- which in turn owns Virgilio, a popular portal in Italy. In TV production FBC co-produces International Herald Tribune Television's weekly "Global Economic Review" show, currently shown in nine countries.

Alan Friedman, FBC's founder, chairman and chief executive, said the workforce would increase from 50 to nearly 80 people next month.

"The synergies that exist between our companies will soon manifest themselves as FBC becomes a major content provider for the SMI portfolio of companies," said Friedman.

FBC reports that it will roll out TV or Internet-based content in countries beyond Europe, to Egypt, Russia, the People's Republic of China, Singapore, Malaysia, and South Korea. It says it will operate in 20 local languages by the end of 2001.



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