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(July 16, 2001) -- USA Networks, Los Angeles, has entered an agreement to acquire a controlling interest in Microsoft's travel Web site Expedia.

USA will purchase up to 37.5 million shares, approximately 75% of the currently outstanding shares, and Microsoft has agreed to transfer all of its 33.7 million shares and warrants in Expedia subject to proration.

USA also announced plans to acquire National Leisure Group, an online cruise and vacation package agency, and will launch the USA Travel Channel on cable. The company already owns an interest in the Hotel Reservations Network.

Once the deals are completed, USA will generate about $4 billion in annual gross travel bookings. The acquisitions will be housed with the Hotel Reservations Network in the new USA Travel Group portfolio of companies.

Expedia and National Leisure Group will expand USA's estimated share of retail transactions conducted over the Internet and via TV in the U.S. from 5% to approximately 9% in 2001, the company said. -- Adrienne Mand

Copyright July 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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