MICROSOFT PICKS UP 35% IN OXIGEN

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Global software major Microsoft has picked up about 35% stake in virtual payments and distribution firm Oxigen Services for an undisclosed amount. "This alliance will help Oxigen expand business rapidly in the virtual payments and distribution space using Microsoft's web and mobile-based technologies, as well as getting access to its advertising services," Oxigen CMD Pramod Saxena said. South African phone services reseller, Blue Label Telecoms, holds another 35% in Oxigen India, the rest being held by the Indian promoters led by Mr Saxena. Microsoft holds a 12% stake in JSE-listed Blue Label Telecoms. Oxigen further said it would collaborate on a preferred partnership basis with Microsoft to drive services and products in developing economies. The collaboration is also part of Microsoft's Unlimited Potential Groups' commitment to help close the digital divide. Oxigen handles aggregation of recharge, bill payments and subscriptions for all leading telecom operators, ISPs, DTH players, prepaid VAS and railway and airline ticketing on a single platform. It plans to provide utility services, insurance, travel, cinema, gaming, applications and video content that would be launched on its web and mobile solution, Oxicash, which would be a virtual wallet. Oxigen's platform is used at about 50,000 retail touch points.

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