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SYDNEY – After 16 years – and many tears – an Australian institution, Ninemsn, is to be no more. Microsoft has revealed plans to sell its 50 percent stake in the online venture, which will now belong entirely to the Nine Entertainment Company, or NEC(Confusingly, Nine likes to call itself NEC, despite those initials more usually being understood in the ITC world to belong to NEC of Japan. 

The Ninemsn partnership is known within the groups as Mi9).Nine chief executive David Gyngell yesterday said terms had been agreed which would see Nine buy Microsoft’s 50 percent share of Ninemsn. 
The price has not been revealed.Back in 1997 Microsoft and the Packer group’s PBL – then owner of the Nine TV group – reportedly put a total of A$50 million into the formation of Ninemsn, with a lot of the impetus coming from Daniel Petre, who had been an executive in both camps.
It was never as big a financial bonanza as Petre and others had envisaged, but for many years it was the No 1 online address for Australians. 
The Packer group sold Nine to CVC in 2006; after that company ran up massive debt it is now principally owned by two US-based hedge funds, Apollo and Oaktree, with finance house Goldman Sachs retaining a small percentage.
While Microsoft will no longer be a partner in Ninemsn, it will continue to push advertising into the online venture, which still claims around 10 million visitors each month.
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