Ask Jeeves, the US company behind the ask.jeeves.com browser has formed a joint venture with UK-based companies, Carlton Communications and the Granada Media Group, to create a country-specific version of the browser.

Ask Jeeves has created a subsidiary company, Ask Jeeves International. Its UK-and Ireland-specific browser is called ask.co.uk.

The new, UK-based service will be accessible in early 2000. As many as 650,000 UK-based visitors already use the search engine every month.

"We believe the partnership with Carlton and Granada will allow us to use their marketing savvy and intimate knowledge of the country's consumers to deliver a highly relevant service," said George Lichter, president of Ask Jeeves International.

"By participating in Ask Jeeves UK we are investing in one of the most sophisticated natural-language Internet technologies," said Steven Cain, chief executive of Carlton.