[photopress:Sol_Trujillo.jpg,full,alignright]Some background. The Australian telephone company is called Telstra and was publicly owned. It is now in the main in private hands and an American called Sol Trujillo has been brought in to run it.
Generally speaking, in Australia, he is disliked by all and sundry. The main reason is that he does not subscribe to the idea that farms and isolated communities are entitled by Act of God to high speed Internet connection. Instead, he hangs on to this quaint idea that Telstra should provide the best service to the majority of Australians and also make money.
Ranged against him are the farmers and the Country Party, which is a political faction that keeps the current government in power. This may not see out the year.
Sol Trujillo sees that the commerical possibilities in Australia are limited. He understands that the population of Australia is, in numbers, equivalent to the population of Shanghai. So he looks abroad for expansion.
(Telstra used to do this with the most excellent OTC but as it had nothing to do with breeding cows on large acreages of arid land it was made part of Telstra and effectively castrated.)
Telstra now owns the majority holding in the China-based real estate website, SouFun.com, and is now launching an English language site. The Australian press, which is far from being the glory of Australia, has made much mock on this, especially the name.
The new site, known as World.SouFun.com, is the first search interface for foreigners wanting to buy or rent real estate in the growing Chinese markets of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Tianjin. Last August Telstra paid US$254 million for a controlling 51% stake in SouFun Holdings Ltd, which is managed by the telco’s directories and online advertising business Sensis.
Sol Trujillo said more than five million foreign nationals now live in China, which he said, was one of the world’s most thriving real estate markets. Mr Trujillo said the number of foreign work permits had grown by more than a half since 2002, and continued to grow in the double-digits each year.
Sol Trujillo (in the Australian press much mock is made of his name although he is a native born American) said the company also planned to launch Japanese, Korean, Russian, and French-language versions of the website, which also features information relevant to relocating, such as where to find home furnishings, schools and medical services, and how to open a bank account in China.
With more than 44 million users a month, SouFun ranks among China’s top 10 websites. SouFun plans to expand its footprint to 100 Chinese cities, from the current 56, by the end of 2008.
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