France Telecom flogs books, CDs, videos online

Formidable obstacle to Amazon's French ambitions

France Telecom is buying Alapage.com, taking it into e-commerce retailing for the first time. Terms of the deal were undisclosed. Alapage, which sells books, CDs and videos online, had been prepping an IPO -- but that now goes out of the window. France now becomes a rather more challenging proposition for Amazon than other major European territories, such as the UK and Germany, where it has been welcomed with open arms. France Telecom is building up a useful set of French-language Web properties -- it already owns Wanadoo and Voila, two top search engines/portals in France, which collectively generate more than 5.5 million page views a day. Alapage will sit nicely in this portfolio. And one would expect audience reach to increase massively. Each month, six per cent of France's online population already check out alapage.com, notching up 600,000 visits and 14,000 purchases, according to Net Values. ®

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