MSN, Canadian search engine separate

Sympatico.ca in new multiyear deal

TORONTO -- Canadian portal giants Sympatico.ca and Microsoft's MSN.ca are going their own way.

Microsoft pulled the plug on the sympatico.msn.ca, a popular Canadian search engine jointly operated for five years by the U.S. software maker and Canadian phone giant BCE.

From midnight on Tuesday, a new multiyear agreement will see Sympatico.ca and MSN.ca operate as separate and distinct portals, with both cooperating and redirecting traffic to the other's individually branded website.

Disengaging the simpatico.msn.ca site aims to energize Microsoft as a major online advertising player in Canada against market rivals Google.ca and Yahoo, which already has a strategic alliance with cable giant Rogers Communications.

The Sympatico.ca portal will continue to offer Microsoft's Windows Live and Hotmail.ca and Messenger offerings, which accounted for the bulk of ad inventory on the combined simpatico.msn.ca portal since 2004.
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