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Yahoo opening research laboratories in Spain, Chile

SUNNYVALE, Calif. -- Internet powerhouse Yahoo Inc. is opening its first research labs in Europe and South America, continuing a quest to close the gap separating it from the leader in online search, Google Inc.

Offices in Spain and Chile, scheduled to open today, will be led by Ricardo Baeza-Yates, a newly hired expert in information retrieval. The Sunnyvale-based company declined to disclose how many employees it is hiring. Yahoo had 9,800 workers at the end of last year.

Baeza-Yates, who will be based in Barcelona, cowrote a widely used textbook on search, ''Modern Information Retrieval."

Yahoo has been spending more on research as it tries to catch up with Google in the lucrative Internet search-engine market. The company already had two research centers in the San Francisco area, plus offices in New York and Southern California.

Despite the expansion, Yahoo has recently been losing market share to Google. Google controlled 39.8 percent of the US search market through November; Yahoo trailed at 29.5 percent, according to comScore Media Metrix.

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