Lastminute denies user collapse

And other Dotcom doings

Lastminute.com is contesting research figures that show a collapse in user numbers. Internet analysts Netvalue reckon the number of people visiting lastminute's travel site dropped from 668,000 in April to 485,100 in May. Maybe users are getting wise to the site having a misleading name and that it just sells expensive holidays.



Ebookers.com has defended its rather profligate European expansion as speculation mounts that it will run out of money by the autumn. The company said that seeking a second round of investment had always been part of its business plan. It has spent around $20 million on acquisitions, and has a marketing budget of $32 million for this year. Revenue doubled to $24.9million in the first quarter, but losses also increased to $10.1 million before expenses.




Women.com Networks is to target UK women with the launch of its first Web site outside the US. The company yesterday announced a $40 million deal with Hearst Corp.'s UK publishing arm, National Magazines. The new company, UK.women.com, will be based in London and expects to launch this year with 24 staff. The site will feature advice and chat, with content from National Magazine's publications such as

She

and

Harpers and Queen.


Just2clicks says it is thinking about spinning off its Tradezone arm. The company paid £10 million for Tradezone in March this year, but thinks it can cash it in for around £400 million once market conditions improve. Just2Clicks reported a loss of £1.94 million for the nine weeks to March 31, but expects to turn in a £2.5 million pre tax profit by 2001. The company's shares rose 1p yesterday to 106.5p, still far below their offer price of 150p.




Mobile phone portal ITouch plans a flotation next month which is expected to value it at about £300 million. The business, controlled by Irish entreprenur Tony O'Reilly's newspaper group, hopes to raise £100 million to fund expansion.




Thus, formerly Scottish Telecom, has lost its £150,000 a year finance director Gerard McAloon. He's off to join telco optical components maker Kymata in the bean counting role.




Healthcare IT group ISoft is planning an IPO next month that will value the company at around £100 million. The business, which provides patient admin systems to hospitals, hopes to cash in on the government's pledge to spend £1 billion on IT in the NHS over the next five years. ®

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