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Let the Freeserve sell-off begin

Dixon to 'auction stake'

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Dixons refuses to be drawn on whether it is preparing to sell-off its majority holding in its monster ISP, Freeserve, despite mounting market speculation that something is in the offing.

The latest twist of this tortuous saga comes from the FT which reports that Dixons has effectively set up an auction giving potential bidders ten days to come up with an offer for the ISP.

It also claims that Dixons is looking to value the ISP at more than 6 billion. Freeserve's current share price values the e-outfit at a nudge under 5 billion.

Despite this latest report, deadpan Dixons remains unmoved.

The official line from the electrical retailer has not budged an inch since it confirmed earlier this month that it was "considering its options in respect of its shareholding in Freeserve... [which] may or may not include a sale or distribution of all or part of its holding."

Since then investor interest in Freeserve has been mixed although over the last week or so its share price has rallied.

No doubt part of that interest has been fuelled by speculation that Deutsche Telekom's T-Online, cableco NTL and Spain's Terra Networks are all sniffing around. BT is also said to be mildly interested.

At midday Freeserve was up 48p to 536p, still some way off its top price of 920p earlier this year. ®

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