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QXL plans UK's second biggest Web float

Hopes to cash in on Internet stock bonanza

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Online auction house QXL is planning a £500 million float in September, which would make it the second biggest public offering by a UK-based Web company. The float would lap-up the current buyer frenzy of Internet stocks, fuelled by Dixons’ Freeserve upcoming float, according to today's Financial Times. QXL has come a long way since February, when it was valued at only £28 million when venture capitalists Apax partners bought a 25 per cent stake. Since then it has been gaining ground in the UK as well as launching sites in France, Germany and Italy. It has also started a service for users to auction second-hand goods, and one for vendors to sell products to the highest bidder. At its latest pre-flotation fund raising QXL was valued at about £157 million. It had sales of around £4 million in last year’s fourth quarter. The float looks likely to go on Nasdaq in the US, with a further listing in Europe. QXL would take advantage of interest in Internet stocks, and that generated by Freeserve, which is expected to float this month with a value of anywhere between £1.2 billion and £2.5 billion. Credit Suisse First Boston, which is running the flotation of Freeserve, is understood to have won the mandate to float QXL. ®

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