Microsoft today announced that they had reached agreement to purchase full control of MSN Israel from their local partner, Internet Gold, who currently owns 50.1% of the Israeli MSN portal. No terms were revealed.
The parties are currently discussing the terms of migration and possible future cooperation. The msn.co.il portal will continue to operate throughout the transition period and both parties are working together to support employees, advertisers and users through this period.
MSN is a global portal network which operates in 44 countries. In almost all of these countries the MSN portal is fully owned by Microsoft Corp. and only in a very few instances has Microsoft joined forces with a domestic partner to establish a local MSN portal. In 2007, MSN Israel accounted for less than 3% of Internet Gold’s total revenues.
I guess they are trying to tell us this is no big deal for either party, but obviously it must be for Microsoft if only to provide worldwide uniformity of offerings. Two other large MSN/local partner variants are in Australia (the 50% partner is the Nine Network which we mentioned last week) and in China where the original quasi-governmental partner, Shanghai Alliance Investment Ltd., has been trying to unload its 50%, most recently to The9 Ltd., although despite some reports, that deal has apparently never been consummated. It cannot go to Microsoft because of Chinese restrictions.
MSN China is a 50/50 joint venture of Microsoft and Shanghai Alliance Investment Ltd. (SAIL) and last month it was reported that SAIL wanted out. Now the buzz is that Chinese online game company The9 Limited is buying their 50%.