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Lycos under offer as Terra weighs four bids for portal

LONDON - Internet search portal Lycos, bought for $12.5bn at the height of the dotcom boom, is up for sale as Spanish owners Terra Networks weighs up four offers for the business, which now has a value of around $100m.

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Terra Networks, a subsidiary of Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica, bought early internet leader Lycos in May 2000, but the business is no longer core to its main focus on the Spanish and Latin American markets.

Sources quoted by Reuters said that Terra Networks had received four offers, which were all being looked at.

"We are weighing the sale of Lycos. No decision has been taken yet but Terra has four offers and we expect a decision will be taken in the short term," the source told Reuters.

Lycos, set to make its first profit next year, is attempting to transform itself like rivals with the launch of various paid-for services.

In April, Lycos reported revenues up 14% in the first quarter to €23.8m (£15.8m), helped by its new focus on paid services and shopping. It reduced its net loss by 19% to €11.9m on the back of revenue growth and cost reductions.

Lycos said that although the market remained difficult, advertising revenues for the first quarter of 2004 increased by 3% compared with the same period in 2003.

Last month, Lycos became the first major player to launch a 1Gb email service. The service trumped US rivals Yahoo! and Google, which have announced plans for similar services, and Google has announced beta tests of a 1Gb service but neither has been able to confirm when they will be available.

The portal said that Lycos Mail Personal 1Gb is ad free with anti-spam and anti-virus software, and fully secure. The service will cost £3.49 a month.

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