Mobile operator Orange has bought online news broadcaster Ananova, the new media arm of the Press Association (PA).
Orange, a subsidiary of France Telecom, paid £95m in cash for Ananova, which PA had decided to sell to concentrate on its core role as a news provider for other publications, rather than as a publisher itself.
The move is the first in a series of acquisitions, investments and partnerships Orange has planned as part of its Orange World strategy. Full details of all the announcements, including the reasoning behind the Ananova purchase, are expected on 13 July.
Orange refused to put a representative forward for comment, but chief executive Hans Snook said in a statement that the acquisition is a "key element of our plans to develop our overall portal platform".
Snook also hinted that the move into online publishing would expand Orange's market reach beyond the geographical limits of its mobile phone networks, reaching "customers in the countries where we, and the enlarged Orange Group, have a physical presence and beyond".
Leeds-based Ananova launched in April this year with a virtual newscaster - called Ananova and based on a 28-year-old 5ft 8ins female - reading news bulletins around the clock.
PA chairman Sir Harry Roche said the deal would provide cash to fund the development of the association's agency-based business-to-business services to media and non-media customers.
Under the terms of the sale, PA will continue to provide news to Orange.
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