RealTime IT News

Priceline.com Moves Down Under with Telstra Veterans at Helm

Business-to-consumer e-commerce provider Priceline.com will set up a subsidiary called MyPrice to take its business model to Australia and New Zealand, with help from dominant Australian telecommunications carrier Telstra and Australian investors.

MyPrice will be chaired by Frank Blount, the previous CEO of Telstra, and its new CEO will be Peter Shore, who will be leaving his position as group MD of commercial and consumer operations at Telstra after 18 years various positions within the telco.

The MyPrice company will set up separate sites for both countries, with its first products for sale being air tickets. The company said it expected to expand into hosting transactions for hotel accommodation, rental cars, telecommunications, car sales, and financial services such as loans and credit cards.

As in the original U.S.-based site, consumers will be able to nominate a price they want to pay for a particular good or service, and business who have registered with Priceline.com will have to match it to be able to sell.

MyPrice will be owned by SFN Investments, which is a "consortium of Australian and international business executives and investors" including associate firms owned by George Soros, according to Priceline.com. Telstra has also taken a five per cent stakeholding.

The venture will be jointly funded by Priceline.com and SFN, and the U.S. company said it would hold an option to buy 50 per cent of its equity under "certain conditions."

The CEO of Priceline.com, Richard Braddock, called the Blount/Shore combination a "management dream team". Ziggy Switkowski, the current CEO of Telstra, also praised Shore's leadership.

"Despite Peter moving to a new challenge, Telstra expects to continue to have contact with him through its intended five per cent shareholding in MyPrice and the provision of wholesale telecommunications services to MyPrice at some stage in the future," said Switkowski.