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Yahoo to take ownership of overseas portals

Company plans to pay $500 million to increase stake in its U.K., Germany, France, Korea portal sites.

Yahoo announced on Monday that it will pay $500 million to increase its stake in its United Kingdom, Germany, France and Korea portal sites, giving it full ownership of these international sites.

The Internet company entered an agreement with Softbank Holdings to purchase the investment company's 30 percent stake in Yahoo UK, Yahoo Deutschland and Yahoo France.

And in a separate agreement with Softbank Corp., Softbank Korea and Yahoo Japan, Yahoo will purchase their 33 percent stake in Yahoo Korea, giving it a controlling interest in the Korean portal.

The deals are expected to close in the fourth quarter, making Yahoo Europe and Yahoo Korea wholly owned by Yahoo.

"By buying out Softbank's JV (joint venture) interests, our strategic flexibility to take advantage of international growth opportunities in Korea and Europe will be enhanced, and this new structure should lead to a more efficient, longer-term operating and tax model," Terry Semel, Yahoo's chief executive, said in a statement.

Yahoo has used its international sites as a test bed for technologies that it may later bring to the United States. Several months ago, Yahoo began testing technology for blog search in Korea. Last month, it introduced a blog search tool for its domestic site.