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Marketeye.com, the UK financial information site, has been shut down by parent company Thomson Financial.

Marketeye was acquired by Thomson through its purchase last year of Primark, another financial information group. But the web site fit into Thomson's 'core' B2B financial services portfolio, so it got the chop. That's because no-one wanted to buy it.

Some analysts are now questioning the viability of financial sites aimed at the retail sector. Certainly there is a shakeout going on.

Last week, Misys shut ScreenTrade, possibly the UK's biggest insurance quotation service online. Misys blamed lower than expected consumer take-up for the decision. It was unwilling to sustain the losses by itself and was unable to find a partner, in the current climate, to shoulder the burden. In our opinion, Screentrade's big problem was that it lacked a household name, such as the AA, that punters know and trust.

Two weeks ago, New Media Spark bought GlobalNet Financial to grab the stakes it held in other Web site companies. It is shutting down the Global's financial Web sites. And let's not forget The Street.co.uk, the quixotic enterprise which raced through millions of quids before collapsing late last year.

So what's left? There are what seems like dozens of retail share trading sites, and there's some well-regarded financial information businesses such as Hemscott.net. With so many punters burned through last year's technology sector excesses, retail share volumes down, there is not enough trade to sustain all of these businesses. Or most of them, even.

The biggest name in UK online personal finance is probably Interactive Investor International. The biggest name offline is - possibly - FT, which competes with III through FTMarketwatch.

III is by far the most successful in turning itself from a personal finance magazine into a personal finance shop. Aside from a couple of small ventures in Hong Kong and South Africa, it avoided the temptation to go abroad.

And it got to IPO early, leaving it with a useful cash to take it through to intended profitability. It's not there yet. This makes it vulnerable to takeover, rather than closure - the customer list is very valuable, and the company generates real business. But in comparison with traditional retail financial services companies, III is very puny indeed. ®

Related stories

NewMedia Spark buys GlobalNetFinancial
Misys shuts cash-burning Web sites
Will no-one rid me of Marketeye.com?
Losses triple at Net finance site
TheStreet.co.uk goes titsup.com

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