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Turner's GameTap Merges With French Gaming Firm

Turner Broadcasting System will merge its GameTap online video games unit with that of Paris-based Metaboli S.A. to create a global online gaming service under the GameTap brand in the U.S. and Metaboli brand in Europe, the companies announced Wednesday.

Under the new agreement, Turner will continue to manage GameTap operations and provide technical and migration support through a transition period to conclude in early 2009, at which time Metaboli will assume direct management of the GameTap business and brand. Turner will become an equity investor in the combined entity.

GameTap, which will remain based in Atlanta, will continue to offer arcade, console and PC games from a library of several hundred titles to broadband users in the U.S.

“Our priority for all of our networks and businesses is growth,” Stuart Snyder, who has overseen GameTap as president and chief operating officer of Turner’s Animation, Young Adult & Kids Media group, said in a statement. “Partnering with Metaboli significantly enhances GameTap’s growth prospects by leveraging our respective strengths.”

According to Time Warner Inc.’s most recent quarterly report with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company took an $18 million noncash impairment charge related to “Turner’s decision to sell” the GameTap unit for the three months ended June 30.

GameTap, which Turner launched in 2005, provides more than 1,300 free and premium console, computer and arcade games.

Metaboli runs games-on-demand and download-to-own games sites and provides a white-label service for more than 50 partners, including Microsoft’s MSN, T-Online and Orange. Metaboli's investors include Intel, Innovacom and Alven Capital.