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Microsoft Aims to Expand Reach to Spanish-speakers

With an eye toward the skyrocketing Hispanic population in the U.S. and the untapped markets in South America Microsoft Corp. wants to expand its Spanish language efforts with the help of Mexican communications giant Telmex. The two firms already have a joint venture in T1msn, the leading Internet gateway in Mexico.

T1msn, Thursday said it will acquire Yupi Internet Inc. and its portfolio of Spanish language sites to launch a portal known as Yupi/MSN. T1msn's audience has grown to more than five million unique users since its launch a little more than a year ago, and the company said the Yupi acquisition will allow it to expand its services beyond Mexico, to all Spanish-speaking consumers in the United States and Latin America.

"MSN and Yupi share a vision of bringing the richest and most diverse Internet experience to Spanish speakers throughout the Americas," said Yusuf Mehdi, vice president of MSN and the Personal Services Business Group at Microsoft. "The strong MSN portfolio of integrated Internet services, such as MSN Hotmail and MSN Messenger, will combine with leading Spanish content from T1msn and the unique, rich content that Yupi provides to offer a premier online service for Spanish-speaking consumers in U.S. Hispanic and Latin American online markets."

Under the terms of the deal, T1msn will combine Yupi Internet with its operations. The new company will continue to operate as T1msn in Mexico, and will operate as Yupi/MSN in other North and South American markets. It will supplement its current roster of services with Spanish-language content from Yupi, which specializes in local news sites for Spanish speakers and a specialized site focused on the interests of Spanish-speaking women.

Microsoft said the new company will be well positioned to appeal to the U.S. Hispanic population -- one of the fastest-growing Internet segments in the U.S. -- and Latin America, whose online population is expected to grow from 22 million in 2000 to 77 million in 2005, according to Jupiter Media Metrix.

"T1msn is a success story in Mexico, reaching the leading position among Mexican portals in only one year and further strengthening its commitment to Spanish-speaking users today," said Gerardo Villarreal, chief executive officer of T1msn at Microsoft. "Both T1msn and Yupi have complementary, high-quality content. With this acquisition, we will make the Internet an enjoyable place for Spanish speakers throughout the Americas."