RealTime IT News

Brazil's UOL to Raise $100M in Equity Capital

Brazilian ISP and portal site operator UOL (Universo Online) said it has signed an agreement to raise $100 million through a private equity placement with institutional investors led by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Private Equity.

The money will be used to pay for the company's growth in Brazil and to expand UOL's operations throughout Latin America and the U.S. Hispanic market.

"UOL is today the largest Internet operation in Latin America regardless of the measure used: subscribers, unique visitors, page views, share of audience in chat rooms, advertising or e-commerce revenues," said Luis Frias, chairman and CEO.

"Investors participating in this private placement are among the most prestigious names in the industry. Now we will be concentrating even further on our Spanish portal strategy."

UOL claims 1.3 billion page views for the quarter ended June 30, and nearly half a million subscribers from 106 cities.

The portal offers users over 28 different stations and almost 500 channels, with services including news and reference materials, chat, e-mail, personal Web pages, shopping, education, travel, classified ads, proprietary search engines, buddy lists and games.

UOL is launching its international venture, with headquarters in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this month. The company said it intends to roll out its operations in Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Venezuela by early 2000.

UOL was launched in 1996 by Folha Group and Abril Group, Brazilian newspaper and magazine publishers.

The investor group is led by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Private Equity and also includes significant commitments by Blackstone Capital Partners III and Providence Equity Partners Inc.

Other investors include Credit Suisse First Boston Garantia Private Equity funds, DB Capital Partners Latin America, Hambrecht & Quist, Latinvest Asset Management and Reuters Group.