BellSouth, SBC Buy

SBC and BellSouth are teaming to provide
national online yellow pages and local Internet search to beat back a
challenge from Google , Yahoo and

The regional telecoms announced a joint venture today, as well as the
acquisition of online directory publisher

The purchase price was not disclosed, but the Wall Street
, citing sources close to the deal, reported the deal’s value at
a little less than $100 million.

Through the combination, the site is expected to tally more
than 50 million consumer searches per month.

“Both print and Internet yellow pages are an extremely important part of an
integrated advertising message,” Elmer Smith, BellSouth’s president of
advertising and publishing, said in a statement.

The new venture will be based in Pasadena, Calif., with operations in
Henderson, Nev., and will draw staff from the three companies. Charles Stubbs,
an executive with BellSouth, has been tapped as
president and CEO.

SBC and BellSouth will manage local online Yellow Pages
relationships in their respective regions, outside the new venture, and the new venture
will develop a sales force for national advertising accounts.

SBC’s and BellSouth’s plan to begin displaying
their advertising on a co-branded site in early 2005. The
two companies already have a strong working relationship; they co-own the
wireless carrier Cingular.

Today’s move by the carriers comes after Google began testing
local search as an alternative to the yellow pages.

Yahoo debuted a similar local search function on its Yahoo Maps site this
year, as well. Called SmartView, it plots local stores, ATMs, hotels, movie
theaters on map queries made by users.

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