LookSmart, BT get six of the best

The gang comprises CLEAR Net in New Zealand, Maxis in Malaysia, Mantra in India, Infinito in Italy, Sunrise in Switzerland and Oceanfree.net in Ireland.

These deals, which will see the six companies become the initial participants in a global rollout of LookSmart's directory content, have been finalised since the announcement of the BT-LookSmart joint venture in November last year.

Tim Pethick, vice president, LookSmart International, said the ISP commitment "vindicated" the joint venture's plan to become the leader in online navigation throughout Asia and Europe. He said other plans of the venture included making it a "significant player" in the provision of internet infrastructure.

This would be achieved, Pethick said, with distributing content through a network of partners, including internet portals, media companies, access providers and affiliates.

New Zealand's CLEAR Net is part of CLEAR Communications, a wholly owned subsidiary of global communications powerhouse BT. For CLEAR Net, the opportunity to work with LookSmart, one of the world's leading search and navigation infrastructure companies, was an opportunity not to be overlooked.

"LookSmart has a reputation for delivering high-quality, locally relevant search and navigation services," said CLEAR Net multimedia business manager Michael White. "Combine this with BT's breadth of presence and we have a compelling partnership which allows CLEAR Net to deliver the highest quality internet experience to New Zealand users. BT-LookSmart will enable CLEAR Net to enhance its position as one of New Zealand's leading portals and offer a broad range of information and links to other sites."

The BT-LookSmart venture presents a unique opportunity to accelerate the international growth of LookSmart by giving access to more than 31 million internet and wireless customers throughout Asia and Europe, plus the UK market which had originally been excluded from the deal. In the UK, BT reaches around 20 million households and has seven million wireless subscribers. However, in LookSmart's home markets -- Australia and the US -- the company's traditional distribution channels, including the ISP partner network, will be retained.

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