Terra Lycos chiefs step down amid reports of boardroom dispute

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One of the world’s biggest Internet companies, Terra Lycos, has said its chief executive and chief financial officer are stepping down. Analysts said the departures of Bob Davis and Ted Philip appeared to signal a victory for the firm’s Spanish shareholders over its American partners after a long-running boardroom dispute.

Terra Lycos was formed in the $4.6bn merger last October of Terra Networks - the Internet arm of Spanish telecoms firm Telefonica - and Lycos, the US-based Internet portal. Its chairman Joaquim Agut had for several months been rumoured to be at odds with Davis over issues including how to use the firm’s estimated $2.8billion war chest.

“Bob Davis’s contributions to the company have been remarkable, building Lycos from its infancy to a global Internet powerhouse,” Agut said. “He has been a true Internet pioneer in leading the creation of an entire industry.”

Elias Rodriguez-Vina will replace Philip as chief financial officer. Philip becomes senior vice president of strategic planning and mergers and acquisitions.

Rodriguez-Vina previously served as business development director for GE Capital Europe for Spain and Portugal and director of mergers and acquisitions for UBS. Rodriguez-Vina began his career in auditing at Arthur Andersen. He has an MBA degree from IESE, and a master’s degree in taxation, as well as degrees in economics and law from ICADE.

A replacement for Davis was not announced. Davis oversaw Lycos’s transformation from an Internet search engine into a major Internet player, culminating in the deal with Terra Networks. He will now take on a much-diminished role as non-executive vice-chairman and strategy consultant.

Bob Davis said he was also joining venture capital firm Highland Capital Partners. “It is time for me to return to my entrepreneurial roots,” he added.

Earlier this week, Terra Lycos announced its purchase of the financial website Raging Bull from Altavista. Announcement of that deal had boosted Terra Lycos shares 5%. After plunging nearly 80% during last year’s tech stock massacre, the company’s share price has gained nearly 50% during the past few weeks.

Terra Lycos claims to reach 91 million unique users every month. Through a mixture of acquisitions and expansion, the company is now operating in 41 countries and 20 languages. Its corporate headquarters is in Barcelona, Spain while its operating base is in Waltham, Massachusetts in the United States.

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