Fri, Dec 24, 2004 - Page 10 News List

PC Home Online shares sell out in Internet auction

WEB OFFERING The average bid was NT$26.37 per share in a stock issuance done through a Web auction similar to Google's

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

Four days after beginning an online auction of its shares, Internet portal PC Home Online (網路家庭) announced yesterday that all 3.6 million shares set to be offered this time had been sold, with an average bidding price of NT$26.37 per share.

The nation's fourth largest Internet portal received 7,245 bids from investors, with bidding prices ranging from NT$25.52 to a high of NT$31.82 per share. The floor price was NT$21.9 per share.

"We are happy that the market has determined the value of our company," Arthur Lee (李宏麟), CEO of PC Home Online, said yesterday.

As PC Home is the nation's first Internet portal to go public, there was no reference point for the company to use in setting its share price. It therefore decided to use an online auction, similar to the method used by US Web giant Google Inc prior to its initial public offering this year, Lee said.

PC Home will offer another 3.6 million shares at NT$26.37 per share starting next Tuesday. It is slated to debut on the over-the-counter market, or the Gretai Securities Market (櫃台買賣中心), on Jan. 24.

As it has lost ground to Google and Yahoo-Kimo in the online search market, PC Home has been keen to expand its business scope in recent years, in areas such as e-commerce and voice over Internet protocol services.

For the first 11 months of the year, PC Home reported revenue of NT$2.2 billion, jumping 84.07 percent from a year ago. Its e-commerce business accounted for 86.8 percent of revenues, with income from advertising taking up 9.39 percent, according to the company.

The Internet portal expects to post profits of NT$810 million, or NT$1.50 per share, on annual revenue of between NT$2.3 billion and NT$2.4 billion this year.

PC Home launched an Internet telephony service called "PChome-Skype" in July in alliance with Skype Technologies SA. It has drawn over 2 million downloads with traffic reaching 800,000 users, including 25,000 for the "SkypeOut" program.

SkypeOut enables users to make domestic or international calls from their computer to a home phone or a mobile phone for one-eighth to one-third the price that fixed-line carriers charge.

For next year, PC Home will continue to focus on the two businesses to maximize shareholder wealth, Lee said.

As the Skype service is becoming popular, Lee said the company will further introduce "SkypeIn" to local users next year.

The service will assign phone numbers to members, which can be dialed from any fixed line or cellphone around the world, making calls from the Internet more convenient, he said.

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