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BT spreads wings with $200m JV

Sets sights on international Web markets

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BT is to form a £123 million ($200 million) joint venture with Web directory outfit, LookSmart, as part of a deal to provide portal services and exploit emerging markets in Europe and the Far East. The deal will build on BT's base of more than 31 million Internet and wireless customers, and LookSmart's Web navigation directories already used in some 17 countries around the globe. According to BT, the venture is the telco's "first extensive international Internet deal". In a statement, the company said the deal would provide Web directories and other content, Internet communications and ecommerce services to consumers. The venture will also offer the business market syndicated services through ISPs and other partners. The agreement does not cover Britain. Evan Thornley, co-founder and CEO of LookSmart said: "LookSmart and BT have established a new model that combines Web navigation with access on a global basis. "We estimate that the portal market in Europe and Asia will overtake that of the US in the next five years. Together, we are prepared to commit up to $200 million to capture the leadership position in these markets. San Francisco-based LooksSmart already provides Web directory services to portals including MSN, Netscape, AltaVista, @Home, as well as 280 ISPs. ® For more money news tune into Cash Register and turn on to our daily Net Finance News

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