Net Finance News: 8-14 Aug 1999


Aug 13 1999 E-bank promises easy money online

Sony commits to online music sales
12 Aug 1999 African-American site gets big four backing
Web site set aside for free AOL registrations


Asian Online

-- a portal for the Asian community in the UK -- has raised £800,000 from the issue of two million ordinary shares. Priced at .40p per share, the directors of Asian Online have confirmed the issue was oversubscribed. Applications for 12,500 shares were allocated in full although larger applications were subject to scaling down.

Dallas-based stockbroker

is opening a day-trading office in London on Monday enabling investors to deal in US stocks online. But adrenaline junkies who want to ride the roller coaster of day trading have first to prove they know what they're doing before being let loose by the doormen at InvestIN. According to the


, day trading is unlikely to garner the same following in the UK as it does in the US. Which means that the chances of a day trader gunning down as many people he can before turning the gun on himself when he loses his shirt are pretty slim.


, Europe's first bank that only operates online, has started trading ahead of its official launch in September. The


reports that the bank has been inundated with enquiries from Internauts keen to stash their cash online. First-e can be reached



Trading in the shares of

ExecuNet plc

has been suspended temporarily due to concerns about dealings in the company's securities. The Ofex-listed company runs a Web site offering discounted product and entertainment services for Pacific Rim countries.

Vocalis Group plc

is to offer its SpeechMail service free-of-charge to Freeserve users enabling them to access their emails from a telephone. Vocalis and Freeserve will split the revenue generated by the calls to the SpeechMail service.

Virgin Net

has a new MD. Alex Heath will slip into the new job on 1 September. The former CE of interactive investor international, Heath replaces David Clarke who joined IC24 in April.

11 Aug 1999 Amazon to expand into Japan
Online shopping appeals to third of all Net users

Global financier

George Soros

lost $700 million -- £430 million -- because he predicted that the value of Internet stocks would collapse. A report in today's


claims that Soros' Quantum hedge fund is experiencing its "worst ever year" after wrongly forecasting that the so-called Net bubble was due to burst earlier this year. Although many of the brightest Net stocks took a hammering last week this came too late for Quantum. Shawn Pattison, a spokesman for Soros, told the


: "We called the bursting of the Internet bubble too early."

European auction house

has bolstered its presence online by acquiring two UK auction houses -- eSwap and Humpty Dumpty. The announcement was made yesterday although the exact details of the deal were not made public. QXL wants to float later this year for between £500m and £750m.

10 Aug 1999

Ellis Watson has stepped down as general manager of

. The day-to-day running of the UK's sixth most popular ISP has been handed over to CurrantBun's management team until a replacement for Watson is found.

AOL Europe reshuffles management raises funds for SME ecommerce portal
Mediasurface and its hugely ambitious IPO plans

, the British wireless ISP, is setting up shop in Germany, the


says. The two-year old company is to seek a second round of funding at the end of the year. This will help it build its radio-based network. It will look for fresh injections of capital in each of the next few years. In its first round of funding, the company raised £20m from Apax and 3i. UK turnover is a "few million pounds", derived from 200 customers.

9 Aug 1999

Could British Net companies be about to pay for lagging 18 months behind the US? A string of companies is hoping to raise millions on the stock market in the coming months but it may be that they are simply too late to cash in on the Net moneymaking machine. Sports and entertainment site

wants £500 million when it goes public in November. Online auction house


wants to raise the same next month when it comes to market.


is content for a measly £100 million. In neat overview of British activity the

Mail on Sunday

described it as a race to "beat the Net panic". It could be right. Summer 99 may well be remembered as the dawning of a new age of enlightenment and a return to old-fashioned ways. You know, companies making a profit, that kind of thing.


claims to offer the cheapest online share dealing service in the UK. The

Sunday Times

disagrees after reporting that Leeds-based broker

Redmayne Bentley

will do it cheaper. Buy and sell through RedM and it will charge punters just 0.5 per cent commission (minimum charge £12.95). E-Trade starts at £14.95. Trading online may be getting cheaper. The question is, who would want to except maybe to downgrade their exposure to Net stocks?

Most of the Sundays focused on the turbulence of the last week. Some people described the market as having a touch of the jitters. If the uncertainty continues it could be more a case of the squits. In the US, some Net stocks have vanished into a financial blackhole. The value of once bright stars AOL and Yahoo!, for example, have been cut in half while has plummeted almost 60 per cent. Lower share prices prices means higher money-raising costs for cash-crunching Net companies. The sector is an enthusiastic user of cheap junk bonds. But bondholders are now more likely to call on net debtors to pay up in cash, rather than convert their paper into equity.

Exchange weathers Net IPO storm

is buying German ISP for DM6mn in cash and shares.

University of London college


has set up a one-year postgrad diploma course to study e-commerce. It starts in October. Go


for more details. Also check out

, an online teaching resource/club for the ecommerce community.

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