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Torstar Announces Strategic Alliance With Women.com; Harlequin Positioned to Become Biggest Romance Destination on the Web.

TORONTO/SAN MATEO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 29, 1999--

Torstar Corporation today announced its plans to develop a major worldwide Internet presence in electronic commerce for its Harlequin Book Publishing business. As the first step, Harlequin has signed an agreement to partner with Women.com Networks, a leading Internet network for women, to integrate Harlequin into the Women.com Network. Torstar's board has approved and intends to make an equity investment in Women.com Networks, including the appointment of Torstar President and CEO David Galloway to the Women.com Board of Directors.

The agreement is consistent with Torstar's strategy to become a major player in Internet commerce. It positions Harlequin to become the biggest, most predominant romance destination for women on the World Wide Web.

Harlequin's strategy is to build a strong community-of-interest website that will attract romance readers that are online. It is estimated that by 2002, over 20 million romance readers will be online in the United States. Visitors to the Harlequin web site on Women.com will have the opportunity to purchase Harlequin books, join the book club, discuss the latest titles with authors and other readers and learn to write romance novels. The strong community-of-interest will allow Harlequin not only to sell books, but also to create new revenue opportunities such as advertising and the sale of romance-related products.

David Galloway, President and C.E.O of Torstar Corporation, said, "Creating this web site is a tremendous opportunity that few Canadian companies can match. We have an international brand name, the ability to advertise our site in the 160 million books we publish worldwide, and we already have the capability to do e-commerce fulfillment. We intend to spend up to Cdn. $30 million over the next three years to ensure we are the pre-eminent romance site on the web. This partnership with Women.com, a top destination for women on the web, is an excellent first step toward achieving our goal."

The romance book market is substantial, accounting for 45% of all U.S. paperback sales. Approximately 20% of U.S. women are Harlequin readers and another 30% read other romance books. Over 50 million women read Harlequin books worldwide each year.

Marleen McDaniel, Chairman and CEO of Women.com Networks, said, "Women.com believes it has established itself as the definitive source of quality content for women on the Web, and today's announcement adds one of the world's best-known publishing brands to our lineup. We are also particularly excited about the e-commerce aspects of this alliance. We believe in the power of the Harlequin brand and are excited about what this alliance can bring to our company."

Women.com is the leading Internet destination for women, featuring award-winning content, personalization services, a community of interests and online shopping. The network is comprised of more than 90,000 pages of content organized into 20 topical channels. Women.com also offers extensive membership services and benefits, including personalization content, personal home pages, e-mail and access to community forums and clubs. In May 1999, Women.com attracted over four million unique visitors and generated approximately 115 million page views.

Women.com will build and maintain the Harlequin web site, while Harlequin will contribute editorial content to the site. Harlequin will promote its site on a co-branded basis with Women.com through its 160 million books sold annually around the world.

Brian Hickey, C.E.O of Harlequin Enterprises, said, "We are excited about the opportunity to partner with Women.com as we both expand our respective businesses. The four million monthly visitors to their site provide a vast market potential for Harlequin. We will be able to provide Women.com with an equally attractive market potential through the 160 million books Harlequin sells worldwide in 24 languages in over 100 countries."

About Torstar Corporation

Torstar Corporation is a broadly based publishing company. Its operations include the Torstar Daily Newspaper Group, including the Toronto Star, Canada's largest daily newspaper, the Hamilton Spectator, and the Kitchener-Waterloo Record; Metroland Printing, Publishing & Distributing, publishers of community newspapers and distributors of advertising materials; Harlequin Enterprises, the world's largest publisher of series romance fiction; the Children's Supplementary Educational Publishing Division, which publishes and produces educational products for teachers, parents and children under the Frank Schaffer, Tom Snyder Productions, Delta Education and Learning Adventures names; and approximately a 40% interest in ITI Education, Canada's leading postgraduate information technology education institution.

About Women.com Networks

Women.com is a leading Internet network dedicated to women, featuring award-winning original content, personalized services, community and online shopping. The network is comprised of more than 90,000 pages of content organized into 20 topical channels, including career, entertainment, family, health, home, horoscopes, technology and Internet, and pregnancy. Women.com also offers extensive membership services and benefits, including personalized content, personal home pages, e-mail, and access to community forums and clubs. In addition, the company enjoys strategic relationships with The Hearst Corporation and Rodale Press, Inc., enabling Women.com to offer an online newsstand featuring content from 13 of the world's leading women's magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Prevention and Redbook.

Torstar's news releases are available on the Internet at http://www.torstar.com/corporate and this release is also available at http://www.women.com. You can search the existing Harlequin web site at www.romance.net. The revamped Harlequin web site will be available in mid-Fall.

The following paragraph pertains to Women.com

This announcement contains forward looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, including those relating to, without limitation, those associated with economic conditions, government regulations, and delays or other problems with website development, operation and acceptance. Actual results could differ materially from those discussed. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to, Women.com's ability to meet the technical and personnel requirements necessary for the completion of the proposed website, public interest and acceptance of the proposed web site, costs associated with production of the proposed web site, and other factors that may influence future business and financial results, including those set forth in Women.com's Form S-1 registration statement filed May 13, 1999, as amended to date. All forward looking statements are based on information available to Women.com Networks on the date hereof, and Women.com assumes no obligation to update these statements.
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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jun 29, 1999
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