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ORANGE COUNTY-Office owners who’ve leased their space to dot-com tenants got some good news today, when a respected investment-banking firm said spending on online advertising should grow fivefold by 2004.

The report, by New York-based media industry investment banker Veronis Suhler, predicts that spending on Internet advertisements will mushroom to $25 billion four years from now from $5 billion today. Total spending in the Internet marketplace “will grow at a projected 22.7% compound annual rate over the 1999-2004 period — 39.5% for advertising and 9.2% for online access,” the report says. “The rapidly expanding base of Internet users is driving growth in both of these segments.”

Orange County is the hotbed of Southern California’s high-tech business, and Internet-related firms have been driving the local office market for more than two years. The new report should help soothe the nerves of commercial landlords in the area, many of whom have been fretting that some of their dot-com tenants may be unable to pay their rent if online sales and advertising revenue don’t keep growing.

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