Spain's Terra Networks breaks ground in Argentina
Added: (Thu Nov 25 1999)
Pressbox (Press Release) -
By Walter Bianchi
Spanish Internet firm Terra Networks (NasdaqNM:TRRA - news), fresh from a spectacular stock debut, expanded its reach in Latin America's growing Internet market Thursday with the official launch of its Argentine portal.
Terra, the Internet arm of Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica (NYSE:TEF - news), also plans to spend around $200 million on its expansion throughout Latin America, company officials said.
It already has sites in Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Peru and Guatemala.
"We have all the necessary ingredients for this project to be a success," Juan Perea, Terra's chief executive, said at a press conference.
The company raised $818 million last week in its U.S. and Spanish public offerings. It is Europe's biggest market-listed Internet company.
With a slew of other big-name players like Brazil's UOL, America Online Inc. (NYSE:AOL - news) and New York-based StarMedia Network Inc. (NasdaqNM:STRM - news) vying for to be the region's biggest Internet firm, Terra tried to play up its local flavor.
"Terra Argentina brings the linguistic and cultural characteristics of our country to the Internet," said Ines Leopoldo, Terra Argentina's general manager.
Terra made an earlier entrance into the Argentine Internet market in October when it purchased Buenos Aires-based sites GauchoNet and Donde.com for $9.5 million.
"The goal is to be the leader in the national portal market before 2000 ends. Argentina has a potential market of more than a million users," she said.
The company said it also plans to open new sites in Latin America by March next year, but did not say where.
Terra has already invested $600 million the past year snapping up access and portal firms across the region, where Internet users are expected to increase to 34 million by 2000 from an estimated 8.5 million in 1998.
According to estimates, only 4.0 percent of Internet sites are in Spanish, but they represent the second-largest concentration on the Web after English-language sites, which make up 75 percent.