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RealTime IT News

Three New Ambitious Portals in Slovakia

[Bratislava, SLOVAKIA] Three new Web portal sites have been launched in Slovakia during October. Strong attention of content providers aimed to Slovakia is caused by growing number of Internet users in this Eastern European country.

Until October 2000, there was only one really strong player on the Slovak portal market: Seznam.sk, local version of the most successful Czech portal Seznam.cz. The market, however, has changed completely during last month. As the first, Centrum.sk launched its services in the beginning of October. Centrum.sk is owned and operated by Czech company NetCentrum Ltd. running a similar site - Centrum.cz - in the Czech Republic. NetCentrum received investment from two venture capital funds in May 2000: Baring Communications Equity Emerging Europe and Intel Capital. Both funds now hold minority stake in NetCentrum Ltd. Czech analysts assume the value of investment about US $4 million, which gives NetCentrum power to purchase or establish smaller local Internet companies.

Just only week later, Slovak version of pan-European portal Wanadoo started to operate. Wanadoo is common brand name under which Web services of France Tilicom are being marketed. At the moment, it is operating the portal site in Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Morocco and Spain. Local company GlobtelNet runs the Slovak version. France Tilicom holds majority in this company, partly by itself, partly by its stake in Globtel GSM, one of two Slovak mobile phone operators. Wanadoo.sk is expected to offer broad variety of services combining usage of Internet and mobile phone including e-business via phone and WAP services. GlobtelNet also entered the local ISP market.

Another ambitious project is owned by Mr. Pavel Rusko, co-owner of TV Markiza, the only Slovak privately-owned TV station. He is trying to widen his media empire - currently formed by TV Markiza, daily newspaper Narodna obroda, several magazines and radio station Koliba - with strong Internet presence. Portal site Markiza.sk operates in synergy with the TV station and offers, beside others, TV programs for download. Markiza-sk also entered the e-business and ISP market. Markiza.sk can leverage huge audiences of TV Markiza, which targets some 70 percent of Slovak population; the start of the portal site is backed by massive TV ad campaign.