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Friday, September 3, 1999 Published at 18:36 GMT 19:36 UK

Business: The Company File

QXL bids for major Net float

Holidays to home appliances are up for online bids at QXL

By Internet Correspondent Chris Nuttall

The online auction service has announced a public offering likely to be bidded up towards Freeserve levels, making it the second biggest Internet flotation in the UK.

QXL, based in London, said in a statement on Friday that it was planning to seek a listing on the London Stock Exchange and America's Nasdaq.

Credit Suisse First Boston (Europe) will handle a global offering of shares to institutions and retail investors. Members of the public registered as QXL users can apply for shares if they express an interest on its Website between September 9 and September 26.

QXL value soars from £28m to £750m

QXL (pronounced Quick-Sell) gave no figures but analysts estimate the company could be worth £750m. Freeserve, the UK's leading Internet Service Provider (ISP) was valued at around £600m by sceptics but was worth £1.5bn when it floated in July.

QXL was founded in 1997, by former Financial Times journalist Tim Jackson, as Europe's first online auction house. Back in February, it was valued at only £28 million when the Apax venture capitalists took a quarter share of the company.

Last month, it acquired rivals eSwap and Humpty Dumpty. Its main competitor is now the European version of eBay, the world's biggest online auction service, headquartered in San Francisco.

Money will go on marketing

QXL said the 25% of the enlarged issued share capital offered would enable it " to expand its advertising campaign and its sales and marketing organisation in order to promote the brand. It will also allow the Company to develop further its technology."

Chief Executive Officer Jim Rose said: "After two years of hard work and focusing on bringing value to our Internet customers across Western Europe, we feel we are able to offer a unique proposition to them.

"This public offering will allow us to continue to enhance our branding, expand our geographic presence and bring additional services and features to our members."

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