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Monday, September 20, 1999 Published at 21:39 GMT 22:39 UK

Business: The Company File

Ford to sell cars on the web

MSNCarPoint will link buyers with Ford's manufacturing and supply systems

Ford Motors and Microsoft have announced a new Internet service for buying cars called MSN CarPoint, in the latest move to spur car sales on the web.

The venture will enable Ford to match a customer's order with available cars and allow them to choose paint, interiors and accessories to customise their car. The car can then be delivered to a local dealership as various US state laws preclude car makers selling directly to customers.

Microsoft will hold a majority stake in the venture with Ford and with other "key leaders in the automotive industry".

They aim eventually to take the company public.

"We will float this thing at some point,"Microsoft President Steve Ballmer said. "For this venture to be successful in the marketplace, it would need access to capital."

The two companies have declined to offer any further details.

Ford's rival General Motors already offers a similar service on the web, as do other independent car dealers.

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