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Budget-price PC vendor eMachines is to buy up rival supplier Free-PC in a stock swap which signals the end of the great PC giveaway. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but the companies said they would not be expanding the customer base of either Free-PC or its free ISP, FreePCNet. That suggests eMachines' doesn't see Free-PC as a going concern. The deal will see Bill Gross, Free-PC's chairman, join the board of eMachines. Stephen Dukker, President and CEO of eMachines, will stay in his current position, and Donald La Vigne, Free-PC's CEO, will become eMachines' executive VP. eMachines, spawned from the loins of Korea's TriGem Computer and Korea Data Systems, sells cheap PCs from $399. Free-PC sprang into the US market last year offering free PC hardware in return for users being bombarded with adverts. eMachines will be able to harness Free-PC's advertising base and combine this with offer for its own cheap hardware. "eMachines' goal has always been to capitalise on Internet revenue opportunities arising from the fact that the vast majority of our customers are purchasing our PCs to go online," said Dukker. ®

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