Asian Telecom Heavyweights Begin Portal Battle

SINGAPORE (05/31/2000) - Asian former monopoly telecom carriers Cable & Wireless HKT Ltd. and Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) have found a new area in which to compete with each other -- Internet portals.

The two regional giants have both announced plans this week to expand the geographical reach of their portal offerings, SingTel through its Lycos Asia joint venture with Terra Lycos Inc., and C&W HKT with its wholly owned Netvigator brand.

Hong Kong-based C&W HKT launched Netvigator in Malaysia today, adding to its Hong Kong, Taiwan and Canada portals. The portal offers a mix of news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel and career information.

The merger between Lycos Inc. and Terra Networks SA which formed Terra Lycos has left Lycos with a war chest of US$3 billion, which it will use in part to fund significant investments in Asia, according to a report by Malaysian news agency Bernama citing Lycos officials.

Lycos Asia has recently set up in China, Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan after initially establishing its presence in Singapore and Malaysia. The immediate future markets for Lycos Asia will be India, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia, Bernama reported.

The carriers, along with the ubiquitous Yahoo Inc. portals, face competition around Southeast Asia from a variety of smaller portals.

Singapore-based Catcha.com Pte. Ltd. has formed a network of localized portals in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. These offer more targeted local content than the large generic portals, Catcha.com CEO Patrick Grove said in a recent interview.

Malaysia has its own popular home-grown portal, Skali.com, which plans to set up representative offices in Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Indonesia by end of June to aggregate partnerships.

C&W HKT can be reached at +852-2888-2888 or online at http://www.cwhkt.com.

Singtel can be reached at +65-838-2740 or online at http://www.singtel.com.

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