Lycos, SingTel Ink $50 Million Deal for 10 Asia Portals

Portal player Lycos Inc. Tuesday inked a $50 million joint venture deal with Singapore Telecom to bring localized versions of the Lycos Network to 10 Asian markets.

Dubbed Lycos Asia, the co-owned company will create country-specific versions of the popular US-based portal. Lycos (LCOS) will offer services such as Web navigation, the Lycos search engine and online communities. Localized content is also included, and the sites will be presented in the region’s language.

New portals in Singapore, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and India are expected to be live by the end of the year.

“We expect Lycos Asia to be the Internet front runner through rapid rollout of high-quality local sites throughout the region,” said Brigadier General Lee Hsien Yang, Singapore Telecom’s president and CEO.

SingTel will manage the day-to-day administration of the sites from its new headquarters in Singapore.

“By teaming with SingTel, a communications giant in Asia, Lycos dramatically strengthens its position in the global portal race bringing our localized presence to 24 markets around the world,” said Bob Davis, president and CEO of Lycos, Inc.

Davis added that SingTel’s ability to provide content and support through its subsidiaries was a significant factor in its decision to partner with the telecom. SingTel’s Singapore Post, National Computer Systems, SingTel Internet Exchange will provide delivery processing, back-end e-commerce support, and bandwidth.

Lycos has a similar JV deal with German publisher Bertelsmann AG for localized sites in 11 European countries. In Asia, Lycos previously formed a company with Sumitomo Corp. and Internet Initiative Japan for its Japan portal, and in Korea with Mirae Corp.

Lycos plans to enter Latin America later this year.

The Singapore Telecom Group holds interests in 55 ventures in 19 countries. SingNet, SingTel’s ISP subsidiary, currently leads the Singaporean market with more than 250,000 subscribers.

Goldman Sachs estimates that the Asia Pacific Internet market will increase from 20 million users in 1999 to more than 60 million users in 2003. Regional e-commerce business is expected to reach $35 billion by 2002, according to IDC.

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