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Monday, 19 November, 2001, 12:35 GMT
Scoot cuts losses
Loot mascot reading Loot
Loot sold to keep Scoot afloat, the cash-strapped online directory that narrowly avoided going out of business this summer, has reduced its losses by more than a third.

The company on Monday said it made an operating loss of 3.7m ($5.18m; 5.7m euros) during July, August and September, down from 9m during the previous three months. executive Chairman Dick Eykel said the reduced losses show that the company's future is secure.

"The company is now positioned to conclude its strategic review on an improved financial footing, whilst continuing to focus on its core operations," he said in a statement.

Mr Eykel added that's chief operating officer Jon Molyneux has stepped down to take up a non-executive directorship.

Shares jump

Investors welcomed the news, sending shares 0.35p higher to 1.75p.

However, the company's share price remains far below its March 2000 peak of 351p., an online business directory, makes money by charging users for referring them to the company they are looking for.

Launched in 1998, the company was hit hard by lower than expected user numbers, forcing it to scale back ambitious plans to expand into mainland Europe.

Having sold its European unit to major shareholder Vivendi Universal, the group now operates only in the UK and Ireland.

In August, was forced to sell the popular Loot advertising magazine, its most valuable asset, in order to stay afloat.

The sale earned Scoot just 45m, less than a quarter of the price it paid for the magazine in June 2000.

User numbers climb

Mr Eykel said on Monday that user numbers climbed steadily during the July to September period, helping the company to boost sales to 10.4m, up from 9.8m three months earlier.

Sales for the first nine months of the year were also higher, climbing to 29.8m from 11.9m during the first nine months of 2000.

However, debt write-downs and other one-off costs increased losses for the first nine months of the year to 178.4m, up from 34.2m one year ago.

Mr Eykel also admitted that the subscriber churn rate - the proportion of users cancelling their subscriptions - rose during the latest three-month period.

Although was one of the first companies to start providing online directory services in the UK, it now faces competition from BT spin-off, as well as numerous sector-specific websites.

See also:

17 Aug 01 | Business
Scoot sells Loot for 45m
27 Jul 01 | Business
Scoot says 'one month left'
05 Jul 01 | Business
Scoot retreats to core markets
03 Oct 01 | Prep Obits - Will Not Publish
Scoot shares plunge as chief quits
06 Jun 01 | Business
Scoot dives as Vivendi ends talks
30 Apr 01 | Business
Vivendi discusses Scoot takeover
12 Jun 00 | Business
Scoot gets Loot
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