Nine to buy out Microsoft from nineMSN joint venture


NinemsnNine is to buy out Microsoft to take 100 per cent ownership of nineMSN and the rest of  joint venture Mi9, the company has announced.

The move by Nine Entertainment Co comes ahead of its planned listing on the ASX later this year.

Mi9, headed by CEO Mark Britt,  began as Ninemsn in 1997 as a partnership between Nine’s former owner Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd and Microsoft.

“From 1 November, Nine Entertainment will take control of Mi9. This agreement will see Mi9 continue to provide market leading digital solutions to Australian consumers and advertisers,” said David Gyngell CEO of Nine Entertainment, in a statement.

Gyngell and other senior Nine executives are understood to have met with Microsoft in Seattle last month.

In recent times, both Mi9 and Seven’s digital joint venture, Yahoo!7, have faced revenue challenges. Last month there were reports that Mi9 faced a 20 per cent fall in its earnings in the current financial year. And in August, rival Seven announced a $61.5m writedown in the value of the Seven and Yahoo! joint venture.

Britt told a media conference, this morning, that the announcement was one of the most significant its Mi9’s 16 year history.

“From my point of view we get the best of both worlds in this model but with only one master. I know in my case, I go from having eight bosses to having one,” said Britt.

“On a practical level the Mi9 brand will continue into the future, the url will continue on,” he said.

“However, I suspect at some point in the future we will rebrand Ninemsn to move away from the MSN component and probably integrate it with an all up Nine Entertainment consumer brand, which will cover all their video and IPTV offering HBBTV etc. but I don’t see that happening for some years.”

Britt said that Microsoft’s decision was driven by the shift of strategic focus for Micrsoft.

“Microsoft is going through a global strategic change to become a devices and services company,” he said.

“They are moving away from media as a business and focusing more on the technology and platform level, so from their perspective this is a natural evolution.”

The Australian Financial Review reports, Mi9 is thought to have earnings before interest tax, depreciation and amortisation of around $25m-$30m, valuing Microsoft’s stake in the company around $100m.

Mi9 generates display advertising revenue from its portal of websites built around the brand.

The announcement:

Sydney, Australia: Nine Entertainment Co (NEC) CEO David Gyngell today announced that terms had been agreed with Microsoft to acquire its 50% share of Mi9 (ninemsn Pty Ltd). “From 1 November, NEC will take control of Mi9. This agreement will see Mi9 continue to provide market leading digital solutions to Australian consumers and advertisers,” he said.

As part of the arrangement, Microsoft has signed a long term strategic partnership agreement, whereby Mi9 will continue to represent Microsoft’s suite of advertising products, while leveraging their world leading technology, data, insights and innovation.

“This agreement allows NEC to retain the key elements of our almost two decade strategic partnership with Microsoft. It strengthens the platform for NEC’s growing digital video business and ultimately allows us to control 100% of our digital future,” Mr. Gyngell said.

“Mi9 is a true leader in Australia’s digital marketplace and we’re confident in the company’s continued success,” said Axel Steinman, Vice President for Emerging Markets, Microsoft Advertising. “Our strategic partnership agreement will see the continuation of our strong relationship with Mi9 and NEC well into the future,” he said.

Established in 1997 as ninemsn, a 50-50 joint venture between NEC and Microsoft, Mi9’s collective properties such as and have been embraced by up to 12 million Australians each month. This is alongside the nearly 400,000 Australians who have downloaded and interact with Mi9 and Nine’s second screen app Jump-in.

“I’m pleased to confirm that Mark Britt will continue as CEO of Mi9. Mark is a talented leader who has overseen the transformation of Mi9’s offering to make it one of Australia’s leading digital companies with its own distinct culture. His commitment to Mi9’s people and values has also positioned the company as an employer of choice. As we move into this next phase for Mi9, I’m delighted that Mark will continue to lead the business into the future,” Mr. Gyngell said.

“ninemsn and Mi9 have been a critical part of NEC’s digital business for many years. With the continued convergence of TV and digital, I’m incredibly excited to be able to be able to leverage NEC’s extraordinary entertainment offering and our continued relationship with Microsoft to be the digital partner of choice for our users and clients,” said Mark Britt, CEO Mi9.

“This is an exciting time for us at Mi9. NEC has always been a fantastic shareholder, so this is business as usual for us. Our commitment to our audience, users, advertisers and employees remains the same,” he said.

Nic Christensen  


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.