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"I'm back."

With those words, Claeys Bahrenburg confirmed that he and a private investment group led by Willis Stein & Partners had emerged as the surprise winners in the bidding war for Petersen Publishing Co.

The questions now: Did they pay too much, and how long until they take the company public?

Mr. Bahrenburg, 49, will be the chairman-CEO of the company in what ranks as an astounding comeback The move comes only nine months after he was forced to resign the presidency of Hearst Magazines, ending a 15-year career with the company.

Industry executives close to the bidding said the price tag was close to $430 million-

Netscape, on the other hand, charged five search engines $5 million each for equal play on its home page. The deals don't expire until March, said Yahoo! Director of Marketing Karen Edwards. Although Netscape tested technology similar to Microsoft's, the search engines pressured it to abandon the application, Interactive Age Digital reported.

"Microsoft is doing a great job of shaking things up all at once," said Jupiter's Mr. Smith. "Search engines are nervous, Netscape is nervous, providers are nervous and advertisers are nervous."

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