BET Interactive Flies Solo

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BET Interactive completed a cash buyout of its original investment group -- Microsoft, News Corp., Liberty Media, InterActiveCorp and former investors from 360HipHop.com led by Russell Simmons.

Viacom’s BET Networks unit called the move by BET Interactive “one of its most strategic steps in its six-year history.”

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Portal BET.com (www.bet.com) launched in 2000 with initial venture-capital funding from its original investors. The site has registered more than 3.6 million users and generates 2.6 million in total monthly unique visitors, BET said.

“This is a great day for BET Networks and BET Interactive as we've seen our goal of 100% controlling interest in our Internet property come true," BET Networks chairman and CEO Debra Lee said in a prepared statement.

"The growth and success achieved by BET.com has been nothing short of remarkable in a tumultuous marketplace that saw many interactive ventures fail,” she added. “We can attribute that success directly to the strategic leadership of [BET Interactive executive vice president and chief operating officer] Michael Pickrum and his management team.”

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