TV Azteca takes 50% stake in Internet portal

Parsa to become CEO of Todito.com

MEXICO CITY — Beating larger rival Televisa in the race to go online, TV Azteca will buy a 50% stake in one of Mexico’s leading Internet portals, Todito.com.

The move also creates a new high-profile alliance in the Latino Internet market, with Delaware-based Todito already providing Spanish-lingo services throughout North America.

Subject to approval by the Azteca board, the web will fund the deal by providing Todito with publicity, content and sales staff.

Former New York lawyer Tim Parsa, TV Azteca’s financial officer since 1997, will also become Todito’s new CEO.

Current owners Dataflux, a major distributor of software and hardware in Latin America, will retain a 50% stake in Todito.

The deal also formalizes the relation between Todito and Azteca, whose respective prexies, Guillermo and Ricardo Salinas Pliego, are brothers.

Online synergy

“With the acquisition of 50% of Todito, TV Azteca is getting on a very fast train,” Ricardo Salinas Pliego said. “Todito will allow TV Azteca to create value for its shareholders and promote its television content on the Internet.”

Launched in August, Todito offers free e-mail, chat rooms, news (including market indices), home shopping and lifestyle information as well as speedy ISP connections.

Mexico already has some 3 million Internet users. A similar number of U.S. Hispanics are also online.

Azteca’s move comes as analysts expect rival web Televisa, which is to offer ISP connections beginning in April, to unveil ambitious online plans in 2000.

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