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BT invests $10 million in Excite U.K.

British Telecommunications, Britain's largest phone company, says it will buy a 50 percent stake in the Web portal's U.K. subsidiary.

British Telecommunications, Britain's largest phone company, today announced it will buy a 50 percent stake in Web portal Excite's U.K. subsidiary with a $10 million investment.

The move is part of an effort by BT to strengthen its Internet presence in the face of intensifying competition for Net access subscribers and advertising revenues.

The agreement will further develop BT's presence in Internet advertising and transactions--two major online revenue generators--complementing its expertise in Internet access. BT is hoping the deal will also bring it the benefits of Excite's online marketing and sales expertise.

"Our joint venture with BT continues our international strategy of choosing the best local partner in each market where we want to establish our business," Excite CEO George Bell said.

Excite UK is hoping to benefit through better access to one of Europe's fastest growing markets.

"Taking a 50 percent share in Excite UK demonstrates BT's commitment to the Internet industry and underlines our ambition to help grow the market and further improve our position within it," John Swingewood, BT's Internet and multimedia director, said in a statement. "BT has been very successful in offering Internet access services and Excite UK further extends our reach into the important advertising and transactional sectors."

Excite UK offers much the same fare as Excite, providing users a personalized gateway to the Web. This includes 12 content areas covering subjects such as news, music and sports, plus advanced search technology, free Web-based email, communities, and online shopping.

Earlier this month, Net portal Yahoo and BT also announced a new European service providing Internet access and search tools without a subscription fee. BT said it will charge users for the time they spend on the Internet, but will not charge a subscription fee or require a registration form.

The companies did not disclose how these separate deals will affect each other.