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Swedish Strategic Partner Invests In Czech's Seznam

The founder and owner of Czech Server Seznam, 26-year-old Ivo Lukacovic, recently confirmed that a Swedish holding company had acquired 30 percent stake in the company.

Seznam, a portal and search service, is the most visited Czech Web site with a reported 750,000 hits per day. Although Lukacovic refused to disclose both identity of the investor and the sum, many are pointing to international portal player Spray Ventures as the Swedish company in question. The sum invested is rumored to be about Kc 50 million ($1.4 million).

Seznam was the first among Czech search engines, launching its operations in May 1996 and the market has since gained a significant number of competitors. Its closest competitor is Atlas, now operated as a local branch of the Microsoft Network. Newcomer Centrum is also attracting significant amounts of users.

However, Seznam still maintains its first position. From the user's point of view, Seznam is almost the same -- and thus familiar -- as it used to be three years ago. Changes were made mostly "under the hood": better connectivity, faster search engine etc., but the number of services added is relatively small. Lukacovic himself attentively avoids usage of the term "portal", though this is, in fact, what Seznam really is.

Lukacovic is probably right when he lefts open space for additional services. With such customer base and recognition of the brand name, one can relatively easily build add-ons; e-commerce is expected to be the first such venture.

Lukacovic said the details of the deal and future plans will be officially announced in January.



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