Internet merger mania hits Korea

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SEOUL--Thrunet, Korea's only Internet firm listed on the U.S.NASDAQ stock exchange, has paid $31 million for Internet operator Nowcom, which has 1.2 million subscribers to its Nownuri ISP service. Observers expect it's the first in a wave of Internet takeovers here as newly capitalized companies search for partners to help them beat the competition.

Portal company Daum has $2 billion to spend, while Hancom has a $2.5 billion war chest. "Even in Korea, with the AOL and Time Warner deal, there's been a lot of meetings in the past few days," says Gilbert Kim at Lycos Korea. "Everyone knows that convergence and consolidation is happening, and wants a head start. We're looking to investa lot even before the IPO [expected this year]."

More money is on the way. IPOs are also planned this year for Yahoo Korea, Altavista Korea, and local companies Onse Telecom and Narae Mobile Telecom.

Copyright January 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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