Skandia Acquires Stake in Fact Based Communications

[London, ENGLAND] Swedish investment company
Skandia Media Invest (SMI) announced Tuesday that
it plans to put US $8.36 million into Fact Based
Communications Ltd. (FBC), a European content
provider for TV, Web and wireless applications.

The injection of capital will enable FBC to
embark on a major business expansion, say
the two firms. FBC and its backers will
explore synergies to market FBC’s product
across Europe, especially in Spain, Italy,
Sweden, Norway, Denmark, France, Germany
and the U.K.

Michael Werner, chief executive of Skandia
Media Invest, claimed that FBC was the foremost
company in Europe to offer sophisticated financial
information to private individuals over both TV
and the Internet.

“It is our belief that financial information to
private individuals will grow interactive TV in
much the same manner that it has impacted the
growth of the Internet, being one of the primary
drivers of consumer acceptance of interactive TV,”
said Werner.

The FBC investment is intended to accelerate SMI’s
strategy of cross-fertilizing the pan-European services
contained in its portfolio. In the last eight months,
SMI put money into companies in Spain, France,
the U.K. and Italy.

SMI is the media investment arm of Skandia, one of
Europe’s top financial services groups, and has
deep pockets for financing new media. Skandia
as a whole has over EUR 100 billion (US $94 billion)
of assets under its management.

FBC is majority shareholder in Italian personal
finance web site, a joint venture
with Matrix — which in turn owns Virgilio, a popular
portal in Italy. In TV production FBC co-produces
International Herald Tribune Television’s weekly
“Global Economic Review” show, currently shown in
nine countries.

Alan Friedman, FBC’s founder, chairman and chief
executive, said the workforce would increase from
50 to nearly 80 people next month.

“The synergies that exist between our companies
will soon manifest themselves as FBC becomes a major
content provider for the SMI portfolio of companies,”
said Friedman.

FBC reports that it will roll out TV or Internet-based
content in countries beyond Europe, to Egypt, Russia,
the People’s Republic of China, Singapore, Malaysia,
and South Korea. It says it will operate in 20 local
languages by the end of 2001.

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