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Friday, June 18, 1999 Published at 07:01 GMT 08:01 UK

Business: The Company File

Billionaire Allen's Net swoop

Go2Net plans rapid expansion

Billionaire investor Paul Allen has paid $133m in cash to increase his stake in Internet site Go2Net to 34%.

Shareholders approved the investment of Microsoft's co-founder.

He now as invested a total of $426m in the company.

[ image: A fresh Internet venture for Paul Allen]
A fresh Internet venture for Paul Allen
Go2Net said the $133m Mr Allen was in addition to an $167m purchase of stock on 15 March.

Mr Allen has also bought about 1.4m common shares directly from company directors for $126m in cash, Go2Net said.

Cable expansion

It is the latest in a series of investments by Mr Allen who through his investment company Vulcan Ventures has picked up holdings in numerous technology companies.

Most recently he has been buying up cable TV system operators.

Go2Net said it will work with Mr Allen's cable companies, which - with planned acquisitions - comprise the fourth largest cable TV system in the US, to provide Web portal services to cable subscribers.

This will allow customers to access the Internet through their televisions.

The purchase comes at a time when Microsoft has made a string of strategic acquisitions in the cable industry in both the US and Europe.

Oprah Winfrey

Microsoft's moves, including taking a $5bn stake in AT&T, are designed to ensure that the company's software is used as the operating system for television set top boxes.

These allow the use of interactive television services and the integration of the Internet with more traditional forms of home entertainment, to create what Microsoft chairman Bill Gates describes as the "web lifestyle".

Broadband cable is widely seen as offering the best means of delivering digital television and Internet services.

Go2Net chief executive Russell Horowitz said is was now well-positioned to aggressively build the brand and accelerate its growth and acquisition strategies.

In a separate investment Mr Allen has also picked up a 7% stake in Oxygen Media, a television and Internet venture geared towards women.

This holding, announced on Wednesday, cost him $100m. Other major shareholders and partners of Oxygen include America Online, Walt Disney's ABC Television unit and talk show host Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Entertainment Group.

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