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Industry Leaders Partner for French Online Service

America Online, Bertelsmann, Canal+, and Cegetel announced today they have joined to deliver Internet services in France.

Under the agreement, Cegetel and Canal+ will acquire a 55% stake in AOL France and CompuServe France, once the acquisition of CompuServe Europe by America Online and Bertelsmann has been completed, pooling its list of subscribers.

Subscribers to Cegetel's Havas On Line service will also be integrated into the new service, bringing the total number of customers to over 200,000.

The service will be offered under the following brand names: AOL par Cegetel, for consumers; CompuServe par Cegetel, for professional/small business users. An additional brand, AOL Par Canal+, will offer consumer Internet access services using cable and satellite technologies.

"I am convinced that the technological expertise, the creativity, and the dynamism of the four parties involved will make AOL and CompuServe even more accessible, easy to use, and entertaining. This is a decisive step toward making the Internet a real mass medium in France within the next few years," declared Thomas Middelhoff, Member of the Executive Board of Bertelsmann AG.

Currently, less than 2% of the French population is connected to the Internet, as opposed to 6% in the UK, 7% in Germany, and 20% in the United States.

The companies plan on having the service ready for delivery in Spring 1998.