Microsoft to link content with Australian online venture

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SYDNEY -- Kerry Packer's Internet arm PBL Online, a subsidiary of Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd, and Bill Gates' Microsoft are expected to sign a joint venture deal this week repackaging all Microsoft's Internet content in the South Pacific, according to the influential national daily Australian Financial Review.

The 50-50 deal represents a significant rationalization of online publishing in the region, combining all Microsoft's Internet magazines with PBL's huge and largely untapped Internet potential from its national magazine and television businesses, "repurposed" for the Internet.

The deal, says the Financial Review, was stitched together by Daniel Petre, now chairman of PBL Online, and formerly head of Microsoft Australia, which had been trying to develop Australian content for the Microsoft Network.

The joint venture, says the newspaper, includes Expedia, a travel service which is one of the most profitable Web pages in the U.S.; Investor, a stockmarket service; Carpoint, an auto magazine with videos and search functions so that cars can be bought online; Sidewalk, a comprehensive city-by-city guide to restaurants and entertainment; and Encarta, the Microsoft encyclopedia.

Copyright June 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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