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Dixons says yes to Freeserve IPO

But will anyone other than a rival ISP really want it?

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Dixons has confirmed it is to spin-off part of Freeserve in a move that will surely test the UK's appetite for Net stocks. It has also said it intends to register part of the offering in the US -- a move that would tap into the US' dwindling craving for Net stocks. The move also quashes speculation that Freeserve may have been the target of a take-over by another ISP. The worry is that its decision to capitalise on its success may have come too late. A report in yesterday's Sunday Telegraph claimed that up to 70 per cent had been wiped big name Internet stocks. The jury is still out on whether this is just a correction -- a massive correction, mind -- or the sound of the Internet bubble bursting. Today's announcement follows the appointment of CreditSuisse First Boston and Cazenove & Co in April to explore the potential of an initial public offering (IPO) for the highly successful ISP. Dixons has already appointed a syndicate of banks to participate in the IPO and further information will be release shortly. Freeserve has also bolstered its management team by appointing Nicholas Backhouse as CFO, formerly at ING Barings LTD. John Pluthero, CE of Freeserve said: "This is a significant step in Freeserve's strategic development and represents an important opportunity to continue to build on the quality of content and services that have made Freeserve a leading UK Internet portal." How much Freeserve is worth is still up for grabs. Depending who you speak to, it could be worth anywhere between £100 million and £4 billion. ®

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