RealTime IT News

AOL Hits Argentina

America Online Latin America continues its South American expansion with the launch of AOL Argentina Tuesday.

The launch marks America Online Inc.'s , continued efforts to bring its branded services using Spanish-language local content to foreign markets. In July, AOL Mexico went operational, just over six months after the debut of AOL Brazil.

Charles Herington, AOL Latin America president and chief executive officer, said the launch now solidifies the popularity of the Internet service provider in South America.

"With the launch of America Online Argentina, AOL Latin America now has local services in the three biggest markets in Latin America," Herington said.

"As in Brasil and Mexico, we are committed to providing our members in Argentina with the best interactive experience available. By providing consumers with unique features and unsurpassed content, we are coming another step closer to making AOL Latin America the leading service provider in the region."

With the launch of the Argentine branch, AOL Latin America now covers nearly two-thirds of the available Internet market in the region. The ISPs ability to match content with connectivity makes it a popular combination with customers.

AOL Argentina was developed and maintained locally, offering access to more than 100 content providers and 15 "homegrown" topic-specific channels covering news, sports, kids, computing, entertainment and finance.

AOL Latin American has a powerful ally in its expansion through the partnership with the Cisneros Group of Companies, Latin America's largest media investment company.

Gustavo Cisneros, Cisneros chairman and chief executive officer, said the expansion benefits all Latin Americans, whether for entertainment or education.

"We are thrilled to bring the world's best Internet online experience to Argentina," Cisneros said. "As we launch more and more localized services throughout Latin America, AOL Latin America is creating a network which will help Latin America enjoy the increased educational resources, economic opportunity and political transparency that the Internet offers, in a way that is easy-to-use and, most importantly, safe and secure for families."

AOL Latin America is currently in the silent phase of its initial public offering, started July 31. Under terms set by the Federal Communications Commission, companies are not allowed to discuss any part of its business activities outside the company for 45 days.

The ISP made its debut on U.S markets, opening at $8, substantially off its earlier projected range of $15 to $17. Officials hope the spinoff raises more than $425 million in cash for continued expansion throughout Latin America.

As expected, Banco Itau invested heavily with a 12 percent stake in AOL Latin America. The two co-brand a customized version of AOL Brasil to the bank's 7 million customers.