Spanish, Mexican groups link to launch portal

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MEXICO CITY--Telefonica Interactiva, a subsidiary of Spain'sTelefonica group, and Infosel, a subsidiary of Mexican media conglomerateGrupo Reforma, have entered into a joint venture resulting in the largest Internet service provider and portal offering in the Hispanic andPortuguese markets.

Integrating local content under Telefonica's Ole.com, the joint venturecombines products, services, technology and infrastructure to enhanceonline services for the more than 550,000 Ole.com subscribers in Spain,Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru and now Mexico.

"We believe that our expertise of more than 12 years being the leading player of Mexico's online industry combined with Telefonica Interactiva's pan-regional operation will create a new formula in which the strengths of leading local participants are complementarily merged with the strengths of a global player,'' said Alejandro Junco, president of Grupo Reforma.

Telefonica Interactiva already counts alliances with local Internet providers such as TeleLine in Spain, ZAZ in Brazil, Advance in Argentina,CTC in Chile and TSI in Peru.

Today, only 5% of Internet content is in Spanish and Portuguese, a figureOle.com hopes to change through its pan-regional alliances.

"The integration of this network will further expand the service offeringto the over 550 million members of the Hispanic and Portuguese communities,"said Telefonica Interactiva President Juan Perea.

In addition, the alliance spells good news for advertisers wanting topenetrate the Latin market.

"The local leadership coupled with Telefonica Interactiva's operationconstitute a viable product offering for consumers, advertisers and e-tailers," Mr. Perea added.

Infosel is Mexico's leading provider of online services in Mexico, offeringInternet access to 50 cities within the nation.

Copyright July 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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