Sohu, one of China's top Internet portals, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire 17173.com, an online gaming website in China and a branch of NetDragon WebSoft Inc., a China-based online game developer with more than 100 game zones and 4.3 million registered users.

Financial details of the acquisition have not been disclosed. Sohu hopes that this acquisition will enhance its position in the growing online gaming industry by leveraging the advertising and consumer business of 17173.com. On Alexa's latest global top 500 website list, 17173.com ranked 130, and additionally has alliances with over 10,000 Internet cafes across China, making it a popular place for players to obtain information and feedback from others ands hold discussions.

iResearch, a Shanghai-based research company, estimates that China's online game players will number 15 million at the end of 2003, while China's online gaming market will take in revenues of US$237 million this year, up from the US$110 million recorded in 2002. 2004 online gaming revenues are projected to be US$422 million.

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