Internet choices narrowing in Asia

Australian Internet businesses should move now to secure a share of the potentially lucrative Asian market or risk losing out to US-based organisations seeking new markets for their products, an industry expert has warned.

According to Mark Reading, partner and head of e-business financial advisory services at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC): "US companies are still preoccupied with the Northern Hemisphere, but this won't last forever.

"While there are signs of a shakeout in the Internet market in the US, Asia, by comparison, is in a gold-rush state. The push for Internet space in Asia is gathering momentum and Australian companies should stake their claim now.

"Pan-Asian portals and businesses are emerging, mainly from Singapore and Hong Kong, and it will not be long before the first mover advantages disappear," Reading said.

However, he claimed "attractive" returns are now possible from short-term pre-IPO (initial public offering) investments, although many businesses looking for ongoing returns in the form of positive free cashflow may still be required "to wait some time".

Meanwhile, Martyn Mitchell, leader of PwC's technology, information, communications and entertainment practice, advised the keys to a successful IPO are solid preparation, a clear business plan and having the right professional team.

Steps before undertaking an IPO:

* Prepare a concise business plan.

* Develop a clear understanding of the IPO process.

* Determine a strategy.

* Make sure records and legal documentation are up to date.

* Undertake a thorough due diligence process.

* Enlist the help of experienced advisers.

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