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Kuala Lumpur, October 27, 1999 -- Asian portal player Catcha.com plans to list on Nasdaq within 12 months.
Chief executive Patrick Grove said the company may also seek a dual listing on local bourse Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange or in neighboring Singapore within the same timeframe.
Speaking at the launch of Malaysian version of its portal, he said the company would set up country-specific portals in Australia, Philippines and Thailand in addition to its present portals in Singapore and Indonesia.
"We are experiencing growth rates of between 25 and 50 percent per month for ad revenues," he said.
Grove said multinationals seemed more open to advertising on the net currently as opposed to local companies but expects this to change in the future.
Citing Goldman Sachs, Grove said Internet advertising in Asia will increase dramatically over the next two years from the current US$237 million this year to US$1.45 billion in 2001. " We plan to capitalize on this," he said.
Set up in July by four entrepreneurs each under 25-years-old from Malaysia, Singapore and Japan, the company recently received venture capital amounting to RM12.1 million (US$3.2 million) and is currently capitalized at RM76.5 million(US$20.1 million), making it one of the largest Internet companies in the region.
Funding came from a group of both local and overseas investors including Arboc Investments, an investment holding company for the Shaw family, Australian company Imperial Technologies, Geneva-based Alternative Investment Management Group, Hong Kong venture cap company Axiom Funds Management and private investors in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Catcha.com is targetting a third round of investment from institutional investors and merchant bankers.
Grove said the company is also set to get between US$500,000 and US$1 million for its related popular MP3 music Web site 1mp3.com soon.
1mp3.com will be spun off and be developed independently but will have some cross-staffing between the two companies, said Grove.
1mp3.com was recently listed among the Top 25 search engines for MP3 in the world by trend tracker MP3Now.
"The site will be a hub for distributing music for unsigned Asian acts. We are also talking to major established labels and distribution houses for partnerships," said Grove.He said he expects a paradigm shift in the next three to five years when established ways of distributing music today will be overturned and the Internet will be play a dominant role.
"When this shift happens, the leading distributors of music on the Internet stand to gain and we plan to be one of the key players," he said.
Earlier, chief operating officer Nic Lim said the company was also planning Malay and Chinese language versions of the Catcha.com.my portal soon.
Lim said the company had also applied for Multimedia Super Corridor status which qualifies them for tax breaks, world-class communications infrastructure and freedom to import foreign knowledge workers within the high-tech zone.(Published in CNET Asia, October 27, 1999)
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