Thrunet Leads Group Purchasing Nowcom

Korea Thrunet Co. Ltd. Friday led a
group which invested $59 million for a majority stake in Korean portal and ISP Nowcom Company Ltd.


Thrunet (KOREA) individually injected a total of KRW 35.6 billion (US$31 million) for a 32 percent equity holding, the largest stake in the company. TriGem
Computers Inc., TriGem Ventures and Metaland Inc. rounded out the investor
group.


Nowcom, also known as “Nownuri” in Korea, claims to be the fourth-largest
narrowband portal and ISP with nearly 1.5 million subscribers. The company
estimates 70 percent of Nownuri users are in their 20s.


“Until now, our business has been limited to the narrowband market, but with
Korea Thrunet we can expand our services to the broadband market,” said
Chang Hoon Kang, Nowcom’s president and chief executive officer.


On the other side of the fence, Thrunet expects to close a gap
in its own service offerings, saying the deal will bring Thrunet into
the narrowband market.


“At present in Korea, over 90 percent of Internet users still use narrowband
access service, and I believe subscribers in the narrowband market will
continue to grow, although at a lower rate than that of broadband,” said
Jong Kil Kim, Thrunet’s president and chief executive officer.


“We need to work on migrating those narrowband users into our broadband
services, and Nownuri will play a key role for us in increasing traffic and
broadening our subscriber base. With a broader subscriber base, we can
expect faster growth in generating advertising and e-commerce revenues,”
said Kim.


In November, Microsoft (MSFT)
exercised its option to increase its stakehold in Thrunet to 10 percent from
the original 4.5 percent holding. Microsoft’s decision arrived the same week
that the company listed on the Nasdaq.

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