Microsoft eyes Aussie Web venture

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Kerry Packer's Internet arm PBL Online, a subsidiary of Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd., and Bill Gates' Microsoft Corp. 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 development in 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 TV 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 includes Expedia, a travel service; Investor, a stock market service; Carpoint, an auto magazine with videos and search functions so that cars can be bought online; Sidewalk, a city-by-city guide to restaurants and entertainment; and Encarta, the Microsoft encyclopedia.

Copyright June 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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