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Well, this puts the cat among the IT publishing pigeons. InterX and Reed Business Information are wrapping their online IT publishing interests into a JV company. Called ComputerWeekly.com, ownership of the new company is split 75:25 in RBI's favour. The JV sees InterX effectively withdrawn from the publishing business by turning over the content production bit of the IT Network into the JV. Financial details were not revealed. Computer Weekly, Europe's biggest and most profitable computer magazine, has not, to date, pulled its weight on the Internet front. With one leap, Weakly gains a powerful back-end content management and tracking system called Bladerunner (Britain's answer to Broadvision). This takes it head to head with Silicon.com, the VC-backed IT publishing group and Britain's first Bladerunner licensee. Both companies will now be able to out-Doubleclick Doubleclick by providing advertisers with "detailed business user profiles". There are companies which pay a lot for this sort of information. Computerweekly.com will pool the content from RBI sites computerweekly.com, distiedeals.com and, from InterX, ITNetwork. It is to be staffed by 20 people from RBI and 35 sales, marketing and editorial staff from The IT Network. In a show of humanity, all too rarely seen in the publishing world, the new business will hang out at the IT Network offices in London's West End, as opposed to the Reed Gulag in godforsaken Sutton. The joint venture will have the right to republish all the editorial content from RB's editorial stable - including Computer Weekly, Computer Weekly e-business Review, MicroScope, Freelance Informer, The VAR, Network Reseller Magazine, Business & Technology and Computer Trade Shopper. The rump of IT Network, 35 employees-strong, is to rename itself Electronic Product Intelligence Limited ("E-PI"). Not exactly a snappy name, but one more in keeping with its new status as an specialist systems integrator for Bladerunner. It will also retain the product database at the heart of the IT Network. E-PI kicks off with six or seven clients, mostly within the InterX family of companies. It is seeking to widen its reach in coming months, probably by using an Application Service Provider software rental business model. InterX shares closed yesterday at 11.75, 150p down on the day, and a couple of mountains away from the company's March high of 39.375. ® Trumpet Blowing... from The Register, 28 February 2000 "On the computer pub side, Reed Elsevier owns Computer Weekly, Europe's biggest and most profitable computer magazine (even though it operates only in the UK). But as with farming, it could be too late for Reed Elsevier to make a big success on the b2b portal front. Very simply, there are far too many well established, and well-capitalised companies already operating in this space. "As a late entrant, Reed Elsevier's best bet is to team up with players which are already active in this sector. In return for equity, it provides the mortar, while its online partners supply the clicks (and the fancy Net IPO ratings). We would not be surprised if, in coming months, the company announces deals along these lines."

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