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Cash Register: 15-21 Feb 2000
More tales from the Bubble Economy
Virgin is to expand its Aussie mobile phone business. The group has signed a 50-50 deal with Optus – Australia's second-biggest mobile operator - to launch the service down under this autumn. Virgin also hopes to make similar agreements in continental Europe and the US.
T-Online, Deutsche Telekom's Web subsidiary, is to move into the European travel market to try and double its flotation value. The company, currently valued at around £20 billion, is planning to join forces with Start Amadeus – a travel sales booking service. Deutsche Telekom hopes the deal will double T-Online's value. It adds to last week's move where the subsidiary bought Club Internet from French group Lagardere.
netvest.com plc is to lead a British consortium to invest in Australia's IQ Corporation. IQ Corporation is raising a total of £3.2m from UK and Australian investors to fund its UK and European expansion. UK investors include Internet Indirect, Carphone Warehouse's Internet investment fund and Insinger Townsley. IQ Corporation compiles, analyses and distributes live sports statistics via the Net, interactive and broadcast TV, electronic scoreboards and WAP-enabled mobile phones.
PowerGen plc has launched a JV with Affinity Internet Holdings Plc to develop Internet products, fixed and mobile telecommunications, as well as launching a multi-utility billing product. The JV will enable gas, electricity, fixed and mobile telephony, and Internet access billing to be combined onto a single bill which can be accessed 24 hours a day via the Web. PowerGen has committed an initial investment of up to £10 million for the JV.
Freeserve and Providence Equity Partners, are backing a new European Internet investment vehicle - ThinkVentures. Freeserve will invest up to £10 million in ThinkVentures as funds are required. Providence Equity Partners is investing the balance of funds up to £40 million. ThinkVentures will focus on investing in high quality, early stage, European Internet and technology companies, including hosting its own start-ups. It will also assist US businesses wishing to expand into Europe.
18 Feb 2000 Abbey National in Cahoots with Net banking
10 Group plc, the AIM-listed e-commerce, media and publishing company, has launched 10i Ltd, which will invest in Internet, IT, telecoms and new media. While the company is prepared to offer seed capital and pre-flotation financing, it's mainly interested in companies with the "likelihood of realising an early return".
AIM-listed NewMedia Spark plc is to invest £870,000 for a minority stake in Swedish entertainment site, Funplanet.com. The company will use the funds to launch the service in the UK and Europe.
365 Corporation has teamed up with BT Cellnet to supply sports news to WAP phones. Users will be able to access football and cricket scores and statistics, with plans to add Formula One and horse racing tips. As 365 CEO Dan Thompson commented: "Great for wedding guests who don't want to miss a game".
Bizzbuild.com, the Internet development group, is set to be valued at £50 million when it floats on Aim next month. It will mark the first floatation via the new share trading service of investment bank Durlacher.
QXL has raised £40.3 million via a bookbuilding process through Credit Suisse First Boston. The online auction house placed 2.5 million shares with institutional investors at £16.10 each and saw its share price rise 187 pence to £18.22.
South African distribution giant Datatec plans to float its e-services arm on the London Stock Exchange in the second half of 2000. The e-services group, as yet unnamed, will comprise Logical, an investment division, and a consulting arm. Datatec hopes the market value of the arm, combined with the planned flotation of its US distribution division Westcon on Nasdaq, will be around £1.5 billion. The move will be used for further acquisitions and to help attract IT staff through share incentive schemes.
17 February, 2000 BT shares tumble on false Brown Net cuts story
European online e-tailer 101cd.com has received a £1million cash injection from specialist interactive investment company, Ascendant, and other private investors. The company is currently valued at £10 million.
Direct Line is to become the first British insurer to launch a Web site to sell cars. The telephone sales outfit is investing £50 million in a site to sell new and used vehicles and motor accessories. The company, a Royal Bank of Scotland subsidiary, said the site would start in early summer and would also include motor sport news and finance and insurance products. The announcement throws Direct Line into the same arena as One-Swoop.com, Virgin Group, Autohit.com and Autobytel.
The Woolwich plans to be the first UK bank to offer Web access in its branches. The company said the service would initially be offered from a few sites, but may spread to all its 400 branches. John Stewart, Woolwich CEO, claims the former building society had 50,000 customers using its Open Plan Web banking service, the Times reports.
Ebookers.com has booted out Microsoft's Expedia to become AOL preferred travel partner in Europe. The online flight and holiday agent has agreed to pay £15 million to AOL Europe to become its favoured travel partner. The deal, which is subject to resulting page impressions and advertising, will apply to Britain, Germany, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria and Sweden.
WH Smith is to start selling computer accessories and stationery online. PC extras, such as own-brand inkjet refills, will be available from July. Stationery, including notebooks, files, pens and storage boxes, will be available by the end of March.
UK ISP Blue Carrots has struck a deal with sports content provider Eclipse Sports. The joint sports channel includes English, Scottish and Italian football, Rugby League and Union, cricket, Formula 1, golf and boxing. It is also planning to introduce tennis and horse racing.
16 Feb 2000 T-Online moves in on Club Internet
Amazon.com yesterday announced plans to create 500 British jobs after reporting sales of £26 million from its UK website during last year's fourth quarter. Revenues were five times higher than for the same period the previous year.
Amazon tadpole rival Infront, owner of Streets Online, retailer of books, CDs, games and DVDs, which estimates total sales of £3.8 million for 1999.
WHSmith Online, the web arm of Britain's biggest book retailer, reported Web revenue of £5 million for the year to September, adding that sales were up 55 per cent in the 19 weeks to January 8.
Framfab,the acquisition-crazy Swedish Internet consultancy, aims to raise £72.5 million to fuel expansion and continue its company buying spree. The announcement followed the company recording pre-tax profits of £2.8 million, more than double the previous year. Sales were up to £24 million from £7.5 million.
15 Feb 2000 Student-Net not sold for £10 million
Alliance & Leicester, the British mortgage bank, told the world yesterday it had an Internet strategy. However, it declined to tell the world yesterday what its Internet strategy actually is, citing confidentiality. Yes, really. It is prepared to say it is investing £15 million in an Internet bank project.
"A Website in Texas can serve the whole American market. A website in Wales or Catatonia cannot necessarily do that." (Sunday Business 13 Feb 2000.)
Celebrity Endorsement Watch: an occasional series And a big hello to Phil Collins and his mates from Genesis. These Rock Gods are pumping in their names (and -- we think -- some money) into Ontourworld.com. This aims to be the "official portal for the world's most famous rock and pop artists, selling CDs and Concert tickets," The FT says. And with Dot.com Phil's name behind it, how can Ontourworld.com fail? It will have to get the Web site up and actually running, of course. ®