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Dixons signs arms length treaty with Freeserve

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Dixons has signed a deal with Freeserve to ensure its super soaraway subsidiary is able "to operate and make decisions independently". All commercial arrangements between Freeserve and Dixons will be on a "normal commercial basis and on arm's length terms". We shall see. Maybe Kingfisher, Dixon's arch-rival in the electrical retailing market, could sow a little mischief here: why not bid for an e-commerce anchor slot on Freeserve? Dixons says it may set up a new group holding company, to give it "a capital structure more appropriate to its needs" following the Freeserve float. This will make it easier to sell Freeserve shares as well as ringfencing the free ISP from the rest of the group. Dixon says it won't sell any more Freeserve shares for 12 months after the IPO or -- if earlier -- the publication of Freeserve's preliminary statement of final results for the 52-week period ending 29 April 2000. And it won't sell more than 40 per cent of the issued share capital (roughly half of its Freeserve stake) in the following year. Dixons retains the right to appoint the chairman of Freeserve's board while it has more than 50 per cent of the company. ®

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