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PRIMEDIA Forms Venture Fund to Invest in E-Commerce Expansion

New York City-based publishing company PRIMEDIA Inc. said it has established PRIMEDIA Ventures, a fund to invest in early-stage Internet companies and other technology opportunities in such areas as e-commerce services, enterprise software applications, and advertising-related technologies.

"Partnerships with Internet entrepreneurs will extend PRIMEDIA's reach as the authoritative source to selected target markets through new media," said William F. Reilly, chairman and chief executive officer. "PRIMEDIA offers entrepreneurs the benefit of financial backing, as well as brand equity, promotional resources and industry intelligence."

The company said its first project is an investment, as well as a joint venture, between PRIMEDIA's Modern Bride and Internet Gift Registries that will bring electronic commerce to the wedding gift registry category.

PRIMEDIA Ventures will be managed by Larry Phillips, who most recently was vice president of new media for the PRIMEDIA Magazine Group. Prior to joining PRIMEDIA, he served as vice president at Unterberg Harris as an information technology investment banker and private equity investor.

"Larry's experience in this emerging market is impressive. In two years under Larry's leadership, the PRIMEDIA Magazine Group has developed leading positions on the Web with over 70 of PRIMEDIA's 100 active sites," said Reilly.

PRIMEDIA Inc. (previously K-III Communications), with 1997 sales of $1.4 billion, is a provider of specialized information in targeted media (specialty magazines, trade magazines, consumer and business information) and education (classroom and work place learning).

Key brands include Seventeen, New York, Chicago, Soap Opera Digest, Soap Opera Weekly, Channel One, Weekly Reader, Horticulture, World Almanac, and American Baby.