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Luxury goods dealer spends $122 million on Oxygen

The women's new media start-up secures a $122 million private investment from LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton just weeks before the scheduled launch of its cable TV network.

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Women's new media start-up Oxygen Media has secured a $122 million private investment from LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the company announced today, just weeks before the scheduled launch of its much-anticipated cable TV network.

The investment was placed through Europ@web, an Internet investment company recently established by Groupe Arnault, the private holding company that controls LVMH, a luxury goods conglomerate whose products include Dom Perignon champagne and Louis Vuitton luggage.

In a statement, Europ@web's Andre de Baubigny said Oxygen understands "that women wield enormous economic clout. Our investment in Oxygen Media reflects our corporate strategy of investing in media companies that show great promise for growth."

Oxygen said it will launch a 24-hour cable network Feb. 2 to augment its portfolio of women-oriented Web sites, which include Oxygen.com and Momsonline.com.

Oxygen faces a host of Net rivals, including Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, iVillage, Women.com and ChickClick. But it is virtually alone in planning to offer TV programming--an approach that has differentiated the company from other players in the field and led to steep start-up costs.

Oxygen's founder, Geraldine Laybourne, has seemingly had little trouble attracting entertainment heavyweights and high-tech investors to back the venture.

Laybourne, who headed Disney-ABC Cable Networks and Nickelodeon, has lured partners such as Oprah Winfrey, as well as Marcy Carsey, Tom Werner and Caryn Mandabach, the creators of the "Cosby Show" and "Roseanne." Silicon Valley consultant Lawrence Wilkinson is vice chairman of the company, and See related newsmaker: Geraldine 
LaybourneMicrosoft co-founder Paul Allen's Vulcan Ventures infused Oxygen with a $100 million investment in June.

In September 1998, America Online agreed to make a minority investment in Oxygen after the women's site said it would acquire three online sites for women from AOL and the sites' other owners.

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