Freeserve confirms sale talks

Wanadoo linked to buyout

Freeserve has confirmed it is once again holding negotiations that could lead to the sale of Britain's biggest ISP.

Sources reportedly close to the deal claim French ISP, Wanadoo, is in the frame for the buyout, although both parties are refusing to talk.

Indeed, a deal may be further advanced than some might think since Freeswerve and Wanadoo were touted as a possible match more than a month ago.

Yesterday, Freeswerve refused to comment on "speculation and rumour" concerning a possible sale. Today, it has confirmed that it is in talks but refuses to name names.

In a statement issued today Freeswerve said the talks "may or may not lead to an offer being made" adding that it was "unlikely that any such offer would be at a substantial premium to Freeserve's share price".

News of the possible tie-up has failed to kick-start market interest in the ISP. Early morning trading saw Freeswerve's share price rise to 165p before sliding back to 148p by coffee time.

It's a far cry from the heady days of March 2000 when Freeswerve shares were more than 900p.

Wanadoo is owned by France Telecom and is France's biggest ISP with interests in Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Morocco.

In June, talks between Freeswerve and Germany's T-Online collapsed after both parties couldn't agree on a price. They also cited "culture" as a stumbling block.

At the time, Freeswerve carried a price tag of £6 billion. Some estimates claim Freeserve has been knocked down to £1.8 billion. ®

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