MoneyCentral, CNBC.com Merge

Microsoft Corp. and General Electric’s NBC said they
will merge the MSN MoneyCentral site and CNBC.com, “creating a personal
finance powerhouse” distributed exclusively through MSN on the Internet.


The move follows NBC’s decision April 9 to shut down
its online play
, NBCi.


Financial arrangements were not disclosed, but the multiyear agreement calls
for MSN to become the online home for the newly merged site, to be called
CNBC MoneyCentral.


The two sites combined will have reach extending to approximately 16 million
monthly unique visitors, the companies said.


The move clearly will result in economies of scale of the sort often deemed
necessary in a time which has seen huge financial problems for many
Internet-related companies.


“It made sense to consolidate our efforts given what’s happening with the Web
business,” said NBC President and CEO Bob Wright in a conference call on the
merger.


Asked about possible job losses, Wright said: “There probably will be some
adjustments, but I don’t think they will be substantial.”


“Microsoft will operate the site, and there will be a joint editorial team to
deliver the content, very much like the way MSNBC is handled,” said Microsoft
President and COO Rick Belluzzo.


Sure to benefit are consumers who follow the market as avid amateurs, as well
as financial services professionals and brokers, since the site will combine
personal finance content from MSN with content from the popular financial
cable news network.


MoneyCentral brings tools to let consumers manage their portfolios, research
companies and screen stocks; CNBC.com brings its Stocks to Watch, Guest List,
Stock Picks, Sector Watch and portfolio-specific CNBC-TV guest alerts.


The cable channel will also direct viewers to the new site, expected to
launch this summer, throughout its broadcasts. Wright said that he doesn’t
contemplate streaming CNBC live over the Internet yet, but it “probably will
happen at some point.”


Erik Jorgensen, general manager of Microsoft’s consumer financial products
group, was picked to head the operation.


The agreement builds on the MSNBC joint venture created by Microsoft and NBC
in 1995.


Like MSNBC.com, the site will operate from Microsoft’s offices, with the
editorial team split between NBC’s Fort Lee, N.J. offices and Microsoft’s
Redmond, Wash. location. Wright said that ad sales will be handled by MSN and
MoneyCentral ad staff.

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