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Virgin.net has been thrown into a panic following newspaper reports that the ISP is up for sale.

The FT reports that City firm Lehman Brothers has been appointed to oversee the sale of the ISP - a joint venture between cable company NTL and Richard Branson's Virgin.

It claims a deal between the two partners - in which NTL would have retained the ISP and its 600,000 users and Virgin would have kept the portal - fell through earlier this year.

The pink paper claims Virgin.net is valued at around £240 million although whether it will make that in a depressed market remains to be seen.

A spokeswoman for Virgin.net declined to comment on the story but insisted that it had not been placed with the FT

"We don't know where they got it from," she said, sounding rather flustered.

Calls to Virgin.net's PR also drew a blank. It appears they were really caught on the hop.

And so they should be. Top of the list of possible buyers is Tiscali - the outfit that bought LibertySurf, WorldOnline and LineOne and then slashed the workforce by half. Oh, and Tiscali is also sniffing around IC24 and SupaNet - which is nice. ®

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