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White van man wins Web commerce war

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E-commerce is proving to be a boon to the so-called "white van man." Northgate, a commercial light vehicle rental company, has reported almost 50 per cent growth over the last year as more and more businesses are using its rental fleet. The company's chairman said growth has been significantly boosted by the popularity of online shopping.



C&W shares got a £2 billion lift yesterday, as speculation mounted over a possible takeover by Deutsche Telekom. The rumours were fuelled by the spectre of political opposition to the German giant's deal with US-based Sprint. Market watchers have suggested that Deutsche may see a C&W takeover as a relatively painless route into the US market.




Internet bank Egg suffered a massive drop in its share price yesterday as people worried about a possible price war between banks. At the end of the day, Egg shares had fallen below their float price of last month. Banks have been cutting prices this week, and as a result many have experienced share price drops. Tangential information: First-e, another Net bank, launched a 5 per cent interest current account yesterday.




WAP company DigitalRUM has taken £3.5 million in funding off Carphone Warehouse and Virgin to develop a price-comparing WAP app. The company plans to launch the product in September and claims it will allow consumers to instantly compare the price of various goods from different stores.




Lastminute.com has signed a deal with Qualiflyer Group, a consortium of 11 European airlines, to add yet more flights to its online offerings. Lastminute will initially offer flights from Swissair, Sabena and Crossair, with other Qualiflyer members - TAP Portugalia, LOT, AOM, Air Littoral, Air Europe, Volare and Turkish Airlines - expected to follow shortly.




Video and DVD retailer Blackstar has had a whip round amongst wealthy Dublin folk and secured £6 million to close its second round of funding.



The significant points about this are that it took three months to get the money together compared with under a month for the first round. And no venture capitalists wanted to get involved second time around.

Blackstar now has a valuation of about £20 million, but the FT reports that at the beginning of the year it expected to float in the summer with a valuation close to £300 million. It is no longer on the IPO trail. ®

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