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Net Finance News: 24-30 Sept 1999

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30 Sept 1999

Cruel City types in London's financial capital have christened Britain's number one ISP Freeserve "Freefall" after its recent descending share performance

Cash Register

has learnt.


Europ@web -- the Internet investment arm of Group Arnault -- has taken a majority investment in the French online auctioneer Aucland for an undisclosed sum. Aucland is set to open sites in Britain, Italy and Spain early in October.


Cable operator Telewest is to launch its broadband digital TV service in November bringing video-on-demand services to more than 10,000 viewers. The service will be available to more than 50 per cent of the four million connectable homes in Telewest's regions by the end of this year, reaching 90 per cent of its customer base during the first half of next year. The VOD trial will coincide with the launch of high-speed Internet access services on Telewest's broadband network.


Bookseller Amazon.com is to rent out space on its site to other e-tailers effectively turning itself into a giant online mall. E-tailers will be able to list up to 3,000 products on its new e-tailing area zShops for $9.99 a month.


Playboy is set to IPO its new media activities next year although there is no indication how much the online adult entertainment business would be worth.


Six months after launching its Web marketing currency beenz.com has announced it is opening an office in Australia to co-ordinate its launch in Asia-Pacific. A fortnight ago the British Web company said that Oracle head Larry Ellison had used his own cash

to invest

in Beenz.


The X-Stream Network has signed a content deal with Britain's biggest motoring web-site, Auto Trader Interactive. Details of the deal have not been made public.


British ISP UK Online is to donate 50p to the charity Youth Clubs UK for each new person who trials its service in the next month.


Baby products retailer Mothercare could be setting up shop on the Net according to the

FT

. Further details are expected in November when Mothercare publishes its interim results.


The Co-op has launched a Net-based bank account called Smile.co.uk. As well as offering customers a free £500 overdraft it's offering savers 4 per cent interest on their current accounts.


James Murdoch, the youngest son of media mogul Rupert, is to head the digital subsidiary of News Corporation -- News America Digital Publishing.


29 Sept 1999

Despite notching up losses of £5 million in its first quarter as a publicly listed company Freeserve has confirmed it is on the hunt to acquire other subscription free ISPs. However, it has warned potential acquisitions it is not prepared to pay silly money.


Search engine Alta Vista -- which was acquired by CMGI for $2.3 billion last month -- is set to IPO in January next year.


Pearson is to invest £40 million to develop its FT.com Web site as a "global business site". The group also announced that staff on FT.com and the

FT

would be merged into one single resource making the paper and online versions indistinguishable.


Bookseller Amazon.com is set to generate sales of at least $1.25 billion this year, according to president and COO Joseph Galli.


The X-Stream Network is to offer toll-free access to the Net for 24 hours from midnight October 1st to midnight 2nd October.


Posh shop Liberty is to be the first "luxury" British department store to launch a fully transactional e-commerce site. Due to go live on Friday it will sell an eclectic mix of gifts, accessories, fashion and homeware online. How did we ever survive without it..?


28 Sept 1999

Future Network -- the Bath-based publisher of PC and Net titles -- has cashed in 182,492 AOL shares yielding a whopping $18.3 million after associated expenses. The equity holding in AOL was acquired by Future as part of its acquisition of Imagine Media in June 1999. The shares originally cost just $661,500.


PSINet is up to its elbows in more retail therapy after announcing it has bought three more ISPs to add to its collection. It has bought TotalNet in Canada, Brazil's TBA Internet and Internet Network Technologies based in California for an undisclosed sum.


GE Equity is setting aside £32 million devoted to early stage financing of Internet start-ups, according to a report in the

FT

.


Online recruitment agency Futurestep has appointed Simon Wiggins to head its advanced technology practice, Futurestep AT.


EasyScreen plc -- which designs and markets Web based software for financial institutions -- is to apply to have its shares listed on the Official List of the London Stock Exchange. The company also hopes to be part of the LSE's new technology stock market TechMARK when that is launched.


27 Sept 1999

Freeserve is expected to launch its own brand of online auction service tomorrow coinciding with the publication of its first set of results. According to some reports its also expected to reveal that it has recruited an extra 100,000 users. At the weekend Freeserve also confirmed it was to supply the Labour Party with access to the Net. Around 10,000 CD-Roms will be distributed this week at the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth and a further 300,000 will be distributed to Labour Party members and constituencies in the coming weeks.


A Scottish Web company has received £1 billion in funding to offer mortgages and other financial products online. Emfinance.com -- a subsidiary of eXchange Holdings -- has received backing from the likes of the Woolwich and the Royal Bank of Scotland, according to the

FT

.


AIM-listed VirtualInternet.net plc has poached the marketing director at NetNames -- Steve Miller -- to be its Head of marketing.


26 Sept 1999

Oneview.net will be valued at £19.5m on Thursday, when it makes its AIM debut,

Sunday Business

reports. The company, which designs web sites for small companies, will spend its float proceeds on building a network of regional offices. It aims to increase its salesforce from 35 to 150 by next spring. Currently operating in London and the West Midlands, the company wants to open branches in Leeds, Manchester, Croydon, Essex, Bristol, Newcastle and Scotland. Oneview.net founder Stuart Lawley told

Sunday Business

. "Getting to the small businesses is the key. It is the grubby end of the business- but not many people know how to do it. It's about walking around industrial estates, knocking on doors. Big companies like Hewlett-Packard aren’t any good at it." Lawley retains 55 per cent of Oneview.net post float.


24 Sept 1999

Top three publisher and one of the driving forces behind AOL Europe, Bertelsmann AG, has denied it is to buy a Hollywood movie studio -- for the time being at least. But it has confirmed it is still interested in acquiring a US TV network despite being blocked by legislation preventing foreign ownership, said

Bloomberg

. "We don't accept borders in the Internet business and we shouldn't accept borders in TV either," said chairman and CE Thomas Middelhoff.


Bertelsmann has also said it is to merge its Fireball search engine with Lycos Europe -- its JV with Lycos Inc. The German publishing-cum-Net company wants to concentrate its brand. The new dual-branded search engine is expected to be floated next year.


RealNames -- the US-based company that lets users navigate the Web using easy-to-remember Internet keywords and phrases -- is building a British-specific database of keywords featuring British companies, brands and products. BT has said it will integrate RealNames into its new search service which is due to be launched later this year.


Blue Carrots has appointed Steve Masters as Online Director and Dan Parker as Commercial Director. Masters was IT editor at MSN before joining the ISP. Parker joins Blue Carrots from Web agency Traffic Interactive.


Egg is receiving 3,000 applications a day for its credit card, the British Internet bank said today. It's also considering offering other financial services including unit trusts pending regulatory approval.

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