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Terra Networks and Amadeus Launch "Rumbo"

[Madrid, Spain] Spain's Terra Networks and the travel technology company Amadeus launched Rumbo this week, hoping to make the online travel service the largest in the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking world.

The travel portal currently allows Spaniards to buy airline tickets and compare prices from their PC. Terra and Amadeus had agreed to the joint venture on December 31, though European fears of monopolistic practices by the two Spanish heavyweights delayed the launch of the Web site until this week.

Rumbo, controlled equally by both companies, has release no statistics about this operation, but said the venture should be in the black by 2003. The company is not expected to go for IPO in the foreseeable future and reportedly has sufficient funding for its expansion goals.

"We want to expand to Latin America, where we're building the infrastructure necessary to service the whole continent and establish ourselves as world leaders in the sector," said external relations at the company. "In the next few months we'll be available in several Latin American markets. Our hope is to become the leader in online travel services in the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking markets."

Rumbo will open Mexican, Brazilian and Argentine affiliates before year's end, and 2001 will extend B2C and B2B services to Portugal and the rest of Latin America.

Amadeus is a leading information technology company specializing in distribution, marketing and online commerce tools for the travel industry. Travel agencies and airlines in more than 130 countries use the Madrid-based company's Amadeus system to distribute and sell their products in real-time. The company, founded in 1987, is the market leader in Europe and South America, with a strong presence in the United States, Africa and the Asian Pacific.

Terra Networks, an affiliate of the Telefsnica group, was founded in 1998 and has rapidly become the leading portal in Spain and Latin America, with more than 33 million monthly visits. The company has 1.1 million ISP clients in Spain, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Guatemala and the United States.

Terra stock has dropped nearly 25 percent in value this year, though the company's pending fusion with Lycos is expected to put the company in the black 18 months ahead of schedule, with 80 percent growth in 2001. Terra is currently under investigation by Spain's Data Protection Agency for alleged mishandling of customers' personal data; the alleged infraction could bring a fine of more than $500,000.