Chinadotcom Launches Direct Marketing Business

Portal and Internet services player chinadotcom Thursday said it will move into the offline direct marketing business, thanks to the acquisition of Australian direct marketing firm RNR International Marketing.

That offline component — which includes database and list management, profiling, telemarketing, and fulfillment — will add a traditional component to its existing online marketing business.

The Hong Kong-based company, which has a partnership and regional joint venture with New York-based ad and marketing technology firm 24/7 Media, already maintains a database of some 10 million regional e-mail addresses through its portal and 24/7 Media Asia businesses.

Now, Thursday’s cash and stock acquisition will give the company control of more than 12 million offline addresses and profiles from mainland Asian, Australasian and Oceanic businesses and consumers.

RNR also brings with it joint venture arrangements with regional government clients, including the Chinese Government for the Hong Kong Companies Registry, the Australian government, and the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association.

In addition to these ventures, chinadotcom said it would be able to cross-sell its online marketing solutions and network to RNR’s clients, which include airline Cathay Pacific.

Financial specifications of the RNR deal were not disclosed, although the firm’s principals will join chinadotcom to oversee the company’s direct marketing business, spokespeople said.

“This acquisition greatly strengthens our capabilities in e-advertising and e-commerce, markets which are forecast to grow rapidly,” said chinadotcom chief operating officer Peter Hamilton. “The mail lists and their record of achievement will be key to driving our continuing growth and maintaining our leading position in these markets, and positions us to be a much larger player both in Australia and regionally.”

“We have great expectations for our chinadotcom e-marketing unit, which is chinadotcom’s vehicle for exploiting the rapidly growing advertising and e-market space in Asia,” Hamilton added.

Privately held RNR is also generating a profit, said officials at chinadotcom, which itself is feeling investor pressure to push into the black.

“Our enlarged mail lists and our best-of-breed chinadotcom e-marketing technology, leveraged off the experience of the RNR team, gives us a regional competitive edge that should translate into accelerated progress on the path to profitability,” Hamilton said.

Shares of CHINA were trading at $6.59, unchanged from Thursday’s close, and 91.6 percent off the stock’s 52-week high of $78.

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