MICROSOFT SEEKS EXPEDIA SHOP IN $25 MIL REVIEW: MOVE COMES AMID SPECULATION; WEB, MEDIA PROPERTIES MAY BE SPUN OFF

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As it struggles to rejigger and streamline its disparate Internet ventures, Microsoft Corp. is reviewing the estimated $20 million to $25 million ad account of online travel site Expedia.

The review adds further to speculation that the company may spin off some, or all, of its Web and media properties. They include MSNBC, CarPoint and HomeAdvisor.

Microsoft in July sold its Sidewalk city guides to Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch.

Suzi Levine, product manager for Expedia, confirmed that the travel site, currently at McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Seattle, was in the second round of a "closed" review.

HANDLED SEPARATELY

McCann has been handling Expedia separately from the $300 million Microsoft U.S. account,

consolidated this summer at McCann-Erickson/A&L, San Fran-cisco.

Ms. Levine said McCann's Seattle office is participating in the review, but she declined to cite other participants.

Insiders close to the Microsoft business said agency contenders include the San Francisco offices of McCann and Y&R Advertising, and Deutsch, Marina del Rey, Calif.

"We're building our own brand and we want our own agency," Ms. Levine said. "Our brand-building is something we've been doing for months."

MEDIA BUYING AT AVENUE A

Seattle-based Avenue A performs online media purchasing duties for Expedia. An Avenue A executive declined to confirm the size of the account or whether its own responsibilities will grow.

Ms. Levine declined to specify the timetable for completing the review.

BELLUZZO TO NET DIVISION

Last week, Microsoft appointed Richard Belluzzo group VP of its Consumer & Commerce Division, the newly renamed Internet division, to help it become a supplier of software technology to Web sites (see For the Record on Page 37).

The former chairman-CEO of ailing Silicon Graphics Inc. and 22-year Hewlett-Packard veteran is charged with resetting Microsoft's online strategy. As part of his overall duties, he is responsible for Expedia and TransPoint, an online bill-paying service.

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