Leading Chinese ecommerce company Alibaba has revamped and relaunched the Yahoo China internet portal as it begins its assault on the nation's vast search market.

Alibaba has slimmed-down and simplified the website as it seeks to compete with market leaders Baidu.com and Google. Says ceo Jack Ma: "Yahoo China is very complicated. I’m confused by it. Its new direction can be summed up in one key word 'search' ... I just want to make it simple, very simple."

Alibaba took control of Yahoo's Chinese sites in August, when the US-headquartered giant bought 40% of the Chinese company and handed it management control within the People's Republic.

There are around 100 million online users in China and daily searches will jump from 360 million this year to 816m in 2007, predicts investment bank Piper Jaffray. It expects annual revenue from advertising on search sites to reach $1 billion (€4851m; £572m) by 2010, up from $134 million now.

  • Stateside, meantime, Yahoo has pulled out of talks with Time Warner over a stake in America Online.

    The main stumbling block to negotiations, say sources cited by the Wall Street Journal, was TW's determination to retain control of its internet unit. Says a Yahoo spokeswoman: "After we learned what their proposed deal terms were we passed and we've never looked back."

    The company's withdrawal leaves Microsoft and Google as the front-runners in any potential deal.

    Data sourced from Financial Times Online and BBC Online; additional content by WARC staff