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T-Online plays poker over Freeserve tax bill

And other tales from the Bubble Economy

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Here's a very plausible explanation for that very public bucket of cold water poured by T-Online on reports that it would buy Freeserve. And it comes from the Sharewatch column of the Sunday Times which points to a capital gains tax liability of up to £1bn faced by Freeserve owner Dixons. "It is thought," the ST says, "that Dixons wants T-Online to take over its tax liability." At the same time, Kalms has been holding out for 600p per share, valuing Freeserve at £6 billion.

T-Online, the Deutsche Telekom Internet sub, in turn said it would only pay 500p per share if it were to take on the tax liability, which would mean that it was still paying £6 billion for Freeserve (and not £7bn). Makes sense to us.

But not necessarily to Dixons - according to the ST, advisers to both companies had "hoped the deal would be wrapped up by this weekend but the deal looks unlikely. T-Online has played a tough poker game with Dixons to reduce the price".



Symbian's owners - Psion, Motorola, Nokia and Ericsson - want to IPO the company for up to £5 billion early next year, according to the

Sunday Telegraph

. The paper reveals that Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and Goldman Sachs are competing to handle the float and - more interestingly - that CSFB, Psion's adviser, is pressing for an early float. Wonder why... More >

Register

coverage on the Symbian IPO plans

here


The Department of Trade and Industry is to cast its eyes over the collapse of online sportswear retailer Boo.com, according a source close to the company cited by the

Financial Mail on Sunday

. If it finds anything awry, it can recommend a full inquiry into the affairs of the company or "propose sanctions such as banning of directors", FMOS says. Sounds like a complete waste of time to us. Since when was incompetence a crime?




Claims Direct, the UK's biggest ambulance-chaser (or "personal injury insurance claims specialist"), has asked domain name reseller LexNames.com to withdraw from sale a set of names similar to the company's name and Web site address. These are Claims-Direct-UK.co.uk and ClaimsdirectUK.co.uk. Paul Massey of LexNames, told the

Financial Mail of Sunday

that the company had done nothing wrong and that Claims Direct could if it so wished bid for the names. Of course, it could always sue.




Durlacher is in merger talks with German company, Value Management Research, a fund manager and online stock broker, the

Sunday Times says

If successful, the enlarged group would be worth £550m, a far cry from March this year, when the market cap of Durlacher alone was £2bn.




CDNow, the troubled online music retailer, is shutting up shop in the UK, CNet

reveals

. We never knew CDNow had a UK office, but that says far more about our ignorance, than CDNow's massive presence in this country. ®

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