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Sat, Nov 24, 2007 - Page 10 News List

IAC to invest US$100m to boost local services in PRC

AP , BEIJING

Media mogul Barry Diller said yesterday his Internet conglomerate, IAC/InterActiveCorp, will invest US$100 million to expand in China by creating services designed for local users.

IAC will also launch its Ask.com search engine in China within two years, chief executive office Diller told reporters in a meeting over breakfast.

IAC is looking for opportunities to develop or buy businesses geared to Chinese users, Diller said.

He said it wanted to avoid the fate of Internet outfits that have struggled in China with offerings developed for the United States and other foreign markets.

New York-based IAC's 30 Web brands include dating site Match.com, directory service Citysearch and portal Excite.

"I think what we're going to try and do is completely different than any of the other processes," Diller said.

"I know that we have learned a methodology of starting Internet businesses and relating Internet ideas one to the other and having a different kind of discipline," he said.

online population

China has the second-highest number of Internet users after the US, with 162 million people online. But foreign companies have struggled to win market share. Yahoo! Inc and eBay Inc both have turned to local partners to run their China operations.

IAC is ready to invest US$100 million in its new China ventures, Diller said.

"We've certainly got enough capital to do damage," he said.

Successful business ideas developed in China might be exported for use in the US market, he said.

IAC bought a Chinese online travel service, ELong Inc, in 2005. But Diller said it mishandled the business early on and is trying to recover after falling behind Chinese rival Ctrip.com International Ltd.

"I think we, in our imperialistic way, made some early dumb decisions and hopefully we're making smarter ones now," he said.

IAC announced this month it will spin off its HSN home shopping network, Ticketmaster ticketing service, Interval time-share business and LendingTree mortgage referral units in order to become a purely Internet business.

struggle

Ask.com, with about 6 percent of the US search market, probably would be launched in China in partnership with a Chinese newspaper or broadcaster to build public awareness, Diller said.

Foreign search providers have struggled to compete with dominant Chinese engine Baidu.com, which has a 60.7 percent market share, according to research firm Analysys International. US giant Google Inc is in second place with about 23.7 percent.

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