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UOL Debuts Argentina Site, First in Spanish-Language Series

Brazilian ISP and portal player Universo Online Friday expanded into Argentina with a local version of the portal, the first of six international Spanish-language sites which the company intends to produce in the next four months.

UOL Argentina will incorporate regional and local content through various in-country partnerships. The portal offerings will include news, chat rooms, online shopping, forums and UOL's Miner search engine.

The company launched the service through subsidiary, UOL International, and plans to roll out new versions in Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, and Colombia, as well as a Spanish language portal in North America, all within the next four months.

UOL Inc. last month raised $100 million to finance its interest in going global, with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Private Equity leading the group of investors.

Approximately 80 percent of Brazilian Internet users visit UOL's site monthly, and more than 30 percent of Brazil's Internet users rely on UOL as an ISP.

IDC estimates that 3.8 million Brazilians will be online by the end of the year. According to Prince & Cooke, the Argentinian online population is growing at a rate of 70 percent each year, but the total number won't hit 1 million until after next year.