Lycos Asia-Similan tie-up to stay for now

Lycos Asia Pte Ltd will stick by its partnership with regional auction site operator Similan.com Pte Ltd in Asia despite Terra Lycos' decision to go with eBay in the US.

SINGAPORE--Lycos Asia Pte Ltd will stick by its partnership with regional auction site operator Similan.com Pte Ltd in Asia despite Terra Lycos' decision to go with eBay in the US.

As part of a marketing agreement announced Wednesday, Terra Lycos has scrapped a portion of its US-based auction site and is linking to eBay instead. Both companies said that the revenue-sharing deal would last less than five years.

The alliance is part of Terra Lycos' ongoing strategy to "either buy outright the market leaders or (partner) with the best of breed" as it did not make sense for the company to build from scratch, said its vice president for E-Commerce Kim Boucher then.

The Terra Lycos-eBay co-branded site launched Wednesday replaces an earlier Terra Lycos auction platform run by FairMarket.

"The deal between Terra Lycos and eBay pertains to the US and does not include Asia," said a Lycos Asia spokesperson when contacted.

"A deal done in the US does not automatically affect us because we are a joint venture (between Terra Lycos and Singapore Telecommunications Ltd). We have operational autonomy," she added.

Lycos Asia--which operates a network of 11 sites in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and India--relies on Singapore-based Similan to provide its users with auction services.

Similan operates consumer auction site SurfingBananas.com and business-to-business site SurfingBiz, which serve markets such as Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

"SurfingBananas.com remains as our partner for auction services online," the spokesperson noted. However, she declined to reveal the financial arrangement with Similan, nor the duration of the contract.

A possible partnership between Lycos Asia and eBay should not, however, be ruled out as the latter is aggressively expanding beyond the US.

As at the end of last year, eBay's international expansion--which began in February 1999--encompassed the UK, Canada, Germany, Austria, Japan, Australia and France. This year, the company opened a site for Italy, purchased a majority interest in South Korea's Internet Auction Co, and launched sites in Ireland, New Zealand and Switzerland.

On the other hand, Similan appears to be scaling back its regional operations. In April, a Singapore-based Similan spokesperson admitted that the company "has scaled back its operations across the region and will maintain a smaller team".

Lycos Asia's parent Terra Lycos operates in a total of 41 countries worldwide, including joint ventures with Bertelsmann AG in Europe, Sumitomo Corp in Japan, Mirae Corp in Korea and Bell Canada in Canada.