Bangalore, India — Internet search pioneer Yahoo Inc. has acquired a 30 percent strategic stake in Chennai-based firm specializes in tele-information search service, Info Network Management Company (INMAC), for an undisclosed amount…
The deal offers online users the capability to retrieve information about business and services in India through Yahoo portals as well as the partner’s phone systems.
“Users in India will now be able to collect information about local businesses and services through Yahoo Web sites such as Yahoo Local — and also by phone through the Call Ezee service offered by INMAC,” said Keith Nilsson, senior vice president and head of emerging markets at Yahoo.
Yahoo declined to reveal the investment value, including how much premium it paid for the stake in INMAC. Although, the one-third investment empowers Yahoo to join the five-member Info Network board with one representative director.
However, the deal gives Yahoo representation on the company’s board, the company said. Yahoo also has a revenue-sharing agreement with INMAC, Nilsson said.
This is the first round of fund-rising by the two-year-old Info Network, whose promoters hold 70 per cent of the stake post-dilution.
“The Yahoo investment will allow us to expand operations and extend our reach across the country to 26 more cities by 2010 from 14 cities, including six metros — Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai,” Info Network founder and chief executive T S Narayanaswamy, said in a statement.
As an important partner, Yahoo will also impart domain expertise in deploying networking products and services in Info Network infrastructure and train its people in the voice-based local search space.
Beginning with data integration of the two companies’ lists, Yahoo also plans to look at other ways of integrating the business models of INMAC and Yahoo, Nilsson said.
INMAC is recognized for its consumer brand, “Call Ezee,” a telephone directory search service available across 14 cites across India. Consumers can call the local Call Ezee number from their mobile or fixed line phones to get the contact details of any business establishment or for any kind of service.
“We are happy to be a strategic investor in INMAC as the Call Ezee business seeks to establish itself as a national player in the voice-based local search space. The Indian local search market is seeing significant changes, as more and more consumers are using mobile phones to search for and find local businesses,” Nilsson said.
As a 24×7 tele-information provider for 365 days, Info Network generates about 10,000 calls per day from consumers and helps two million customers across verticals to benefit from the service.
Info Network will increase its headcount to 2,000 people in the next 12 months from 450-500 by this year-end to handle its expanded operations.
Added Narayanaswamy: “We are confident that the funds provided by Yahoo! will help us improve our business. The funding will be used to increase coverage of Call Ezee, make technology improvements as well as build a world-class team.”
Call Ezee provides details to calling consumer with multiple choices of service providers and offers 24-hour helpline for medical emergencies.
This is the third investment Yahoo making in Indian enterprises, after taking similar strategic stakes in Bharatmatrimony.com portal and Tyroo Media Ltd during the last two-three years.