BT joins LookSmart in £130m venture

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The Independent Online

BRITISH TELECOM yesterday concluded a 50-50 joint venture with LookSmart, a US Internet firm, to spend £130m over two years to develop European and Asian portal services.

BRITISH TELECOM yesterday concluded a 50-50 joint venture with LookSmart, a US Internet firm, to spend £130m over two years to develop European and Asian portal services.

The venture, BT's first major international Internet deal, is to deliver country-specific Web navigation and content to on-line users over the two continents.

Alfred Mockett, BT Worldwide's chief executive, said the venture is intended to deliver £300m-£500m in annual revenue in five years. He estimated that would give the venture about a one-third share in a global market worth £1.2bn-£1.8bn.

Evan Thornly, co-founder and chief executive of LookSmart, said the venture could equal the company's US business in five years.

Operations are to begin in the first quarter of next year in several countries. Mockett said 31 million of BT's 43 million customers outside of Britain had access to Internet or mobile telecoms service. BT's 30 equity-based joint ventures, primarily based in Europe, would be able to use the venture's Web directories, Internet communications and electronic commerce services for their own Internet service providers.

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