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SINA.com Prepares to Hit the Street

According to the China Internet Network Information Center, Internet usage is growing at the rate of 200 percent annually in the Asian/Pacific market.

International Data Corp. estimates the number of Internet users in the Asia-Pacific region will surpass that of Western Europe in 2001, becoming the number two market behind the United States.

With this growth, there is a need for Net infrastructure. So, it is no surprise that such companies have had strong IPOs, like China.com (CHINA).

And there is another one. SINA.com is a Web portal that offers a wide variety of services and content for Chinese communities worldwide. SINA.com services include news, finance, living (lifestyle), sports, e-mail, search, and on-line shopping. Think of it as the Yahoo! of China.

The price range is $15-18, the lead underwriter is Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and the proposed ticker symbol is SINA.

SINA.com was formed in March 1999, by the merging of the top Chinese language Web sites: SINANET.com and BSRS. Currently, they have about 500 employees, of which 100 are stationed in US alone. You might ask, "Why so many employees in the United States?" Believe it or not, there are over 4 million Asian households in the US and Canada alone. This represents buying power of $150 billion a year (IDC).

What makes SINA.com different from their competitors is that they are dedicated to connecting the "Chinese Language" community. The SinaXpress Publication Engine generates Web content readable in multiple formats for different markets. They offer Simplified Chinese for Mailand China, Traditional Chinese for Taiwan and Hong Kong, and Gif Chinese for Northa America, Europe and other areas.

The SINA.com community includes over 2.1 million registered and profiled members. SINA.com's advertisers, clients and partners include: AmericanExpress, AT&T, Beijing Morning Post, CBS MarketWatch, China Travel, Chinese Investors, Charles Schwab, CNET, Dow Jones, Disney, E*Trade, Fannie Mae, Kodak, MetLife, Microsoft, and New York Times.

SINA.com has targeted a huge audience and has successfully provided its users access to an impressive number of content providers in a language they can understand (their own). So far, foreign IPOs have been strong and expect the same from SINA.com.

Although, the company is not without risks. The portal field is getting much more competitive. What's more, foreign-based companies can undergo much volatility, such as from political instability and currency fluctuations. But so far, SINA.com has done a great job in building a force in Asia.