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Yahoo to sell ads for Viacom sites

Deal boosts efforts to take on market leader Google

SAN FRANCISCO -- Yahoo Inc., owner of the most-visited US website, struck an exclusive agreement to sell search-linked advertising for, and 31 other websites run by media company Viacom Inc.

Yahoo will use its Panama advertising program to pitch the ads, the companies said yesterday in a statement. Yahoo will help market Viacom's websites by offering advertisers a way to target their users, said Viacom spokeswoman Kelly McAndrew.

The agreement will let Sunnyvale, Calif. -based Yahoo provide a broader range of websites to clients as it takes on market leader Google Inc. Yahoo and Viacom will share revenue from text links appearing next to search results, articles, and pictures on Viacom's sites starting this quarter, Yahoo spokeswoman Gaude Paez said.

"This is obviously a pretty big win for Yahoo, especially coming on the heels of a year when many people suggested that they lost out on some opportunities," said Scott Kessler, an equity analyst at Standard & Poor's in New York.

Shares of Yahoo rose 17 cents to $31.81 in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. New York-based Viacom's Class B shares fell 31 cents to $40.69.