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There are doubts today about reports that a US company paid £10 million to buy a student British Web site, The Register can reveal.

Last month four former students from Nottingham University received widespread acclaim after it was reported that a US company had ploughed £10 million into the outfit.

Student-net.co.uk was hailed as an example of how dotcom investment could turn penniless wannabe e-ntrepreneurs into multi-millionaires overnight. What made the story even more appealing was that it was devised by penniless students looking for something to do.

Except that IMPG didn't pay £10 million for a 74 per cent stake in Student-net.

"We haven't bought the company for £10 million," said Peter Fleming of IPMG.

"The company was valued at £10 million but since then its value has rocketed -- it's maybe five times higher now," he said.

Yet the BBC, the Telegraph and the Mail, among others, all reported that Student-Net was sold for £10 million.

Alan Edmondson, marketing director at Student-Net, said today that the deal "valued us at £10 million".

Spot the difference?

Sure, the guys behind Student-net could make millions if the business does well and if it floats successfully and enough people are interested. But that's lots of ifs - and miles away from the idea that Student-Net was "bought by [an] American firm", as reported by the BBC.

According to Fleming, there are "many different layers" to the deal. Like Edmondson, he declined to talk specifically about numbers but said that as part of the deal, the key players at Student-Net would also receive shares in IMPG.

Edmondson was more specific. He said: "IMPG has merged with Student-Net in a deal worth more than £10 million."

So which is it? Has IMPG bought, merged or invested in Student-Net?

Edmondson says the story was the subject of "misrepresentation by the press".

If that's the case, The Register is delighted to be able to put the record straight - whatever that might be.

The Register can also reveal that IMPG is planning to invest in a further five dotcom outfits.

US company IMPG is incorporated in Carson City, Nevada but has an office in Fulham, London. ®

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