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Knight-Ridder Inc., a leading media company, is selling its online business information service, including its best-known brands, Dialog and DataStar, to Britain's M.A.I.D. PLC for $420 million, the companies announced Thursday.

The new company will be renamed Dialog Corp. The purchase will create a global leader in online information when it closes in November, said Daniel Wagner, chief executive of M.A.I.D., which stands for Market Analysis and Information Database.

Knight-Ridder has built the information service's revenue from $99 million to $290 million in its nine years of ownership, including the 1993 addition of DataStar, a leading European provider of online information.

"This is a business we did not want to lose, but in light of our recent acquisition of four newspapers from the Walt Disney Co., the sale is necessary," said Tony Ridder, Knight-Ridder's chairman and chief executive officer.

Knight publishes 36 daily newspapers with 35 Web sites and operates electronic retrieval services and graphics and photo services.

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