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French government publishes details of Thomson stakes

But they're still not talking about how much Microsoft et al are paying

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The French government has released details of the sell-off of slabs of government-owned Thomson Multimedia to Alcatel, DirectTV, NEC and Microsoft, but the bottom line remains secret, apparently. The four companies are to each buy a 7.5 per cent in the ailing operation, and on Friday the French Economic Ministry filed a legal notice specifying the nature of co-operative agreements the four would run with Thomson. The actual bottom line of how much the companies are paying however remains undisclosed - one might suspect that given the state of play at Thomson, it's very little. The four 'technical, industrial and financial co-operation' agreements all seem to revolve around consumer TV and networking technologies. Alcatel will help develop digital networking technologies, DirectTV will co-operate in decoder and digital TV devices, while NEC's area will be DVD and wide-screen flat panel displays. Microsoft's contribution is interactive TV and Internet TV-related products. Microsoft itself received a quid pro quo for agreeing the investment - the company will get CE accepted as Thomson's standard for Internet via TV, and Thomson will license Microsoft WebTV-based set-top boxes for sale under the Thomson brand in Europe and RCA in the US.

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