* Groupon sells more than 650,000 holiday deals-CEO
* Post-IPO quiet period ends for daily deal company
* LivingSocial may sell 350,000 national holiday deals
* Groupon CFO says international growth still strong
* Shares rise 9.3 percent
By Alistair Barr and Phil Wahba
Nov 30 Groupon Inc's shares rose more
than 9 percent on Wednesday after Chief Executive Andrew Mason
emerged from the company's post-IPO quiet period to share
holiday sales numbers.
Groupon sold more than 650,000 holiday deals between Black
Friday and Cyber Monday, an increase of 500 percent compared
with last year, Mason said in a blog post on Wednesday.
Shares of the largest daily-deal company have been slammed
in recent weeks on concern about increased competition. The
stock has fallen by nearly half since hitting a high of $31.14
on its Nov. 4 market debut.
Groupon shares rose 9.3 percent to close at $17.50 on
Nasdaq, but were still below the $20 IPO price.
LivingSocial, which is Groupon's closest rival and partly
owned by Amazon.com Inc , offered more than 20 deals
with national merchants for Black Friday shopping.
As of Tuesday afternoon, LivingSocial was on course to sell
325,000 to 350,000 national holiday deals, LivingSocial said on
Companies and executives are restricted from speaking
publicly in the first weeks after an IPO, but Mason said on
Wednesday that the quiet period for Groupon was over.
"Our IPO process was a wild ride, but we're excited to get
back to business and are focused squarely on the future," Mason
wrote. "We're back to communicating like a normal company again
... well, as normal as we can muster at Groupon."
The CEO and the Groupon Chief Financial Officer Jason Child
spoke at a Credit Suisse technology conference in Scottsdale,
Arizona, which was webcast on Wednesday afternoon.
Child said the company's international business is still
growing strongly, despite turmoil in Europe.
Groupon gets more than half its revenue overseas and the
European sovereign debt crisis had sparked concern that demand
for the company's deals may wane in that region.
Groupon's Gaopeng joint venture in China, owned with
Tencent , faced problems earlier this year and some
employees were let go.
Mason said on Wednesday that Gaopeng is being given
autonomy to operate under a different strategy than the rest of
Groupon because China's local commerce market is so different.
Most people in China still browse the Internet and use
search engines to get information, while Groupon's main
expertise is communicating via email, Mason explained.
"We're patiently supporting the team," Mason added.
Child also told investors to expect marketing spending to
drive revenue growth, rather than subscriber growth, in the
Groupon has spent hundreds of millions of dollars
attracting subscribers and this strategy was criticized during
the IPO process.
Groupon's marketing spending reached an annual rate of
about $700 million during the third quarter and Child said that
will remain at similar levels in the future.
However, Groupon is switching focus from attracting new
subscribers to encouraging more purchases by existing
subscribers and customers, he said.
"You will start to see us look more like an e-commerce
company with marketing spending that more directly corresponds
to revenue growth," Child said.