VIVENDI BUYS 3 SITES FROM EUROPATWEB

PARIS — Europatweb, luxury titan Bernard Arnault’s Internet industrial arm, has sold three of its new-technology oriented Internet sites to French media group Vivendi Universal for about $50 million.
A spokesman for Europatweb said Wednesday the divestiture of the Web sites represented a “good financial deal for Europatweb.” The move was made, the spokesman added, because the Web sites sold do not fit in with the strategy Europatweb has mapped out with new partner, Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux, the French telecommunications giant.
“When the Suez pact was made, we said we would develop synergies between Europatweb’s 46 Web sites and Suez’s infrastructure,” said the spokesman. “The sites sold did not create synergies.” Those plans call for Europatweb to provide content and Suez to provide infrastructure for various Internet projects, the spokesman noted.
Suez purchased a 30 percent stake in Europatweb in November, while Arnault himself took a 10 percent stake in the Suez-led consortium vying for a license to operate third-generation mobile phone technology. In January, however, Suez dropped out of the race to license the third-generation, or UTMS, phone technology.
A fourth Web site controlled by Europatweb, which the spokesman declined to name, could be sold to Vivendi, as well, and a fifth one could also be sold, but the spokesman did not name the entity or potential suitors. He did say that the fifth Web site would not be purchased by Vivendi.
Meanwhile, Zebank, Arnault’s online banking venture, formally opened for business this week, setting a goal of attracting 60,000 customers by Dec. 31. Europatweb owns 80 percent of Zebank, with the Franco-Belgian municipal lender, Dexia, owning the rest.

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