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The BBC's Peter Morgan
"The higher the dot coms climb, the further they'll have to fall"
 real 28k

Martha Lane Fox, Lastminute.com
"We feel we can create a business that's here for the long term"
 real 28k

Industrial Society's Chief Executive Will Hutton
"Everyone who's buying Lastminute.com today knows that the price is absurd"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 14 March, 2000, 17:13 GMT
Lastminute shares close up 28%
Lastminute.com founders
Nearly 190,000 people have bought shares
Internet company Lastminute.com's shares rose by more than 25% in their first day of trading in London.

The shares were floated at 380p - valuing the company at 571.3m - but rose more than 40% in early trading.

They subsequently fell back from those highs to close at 487.5p, an increase of 28%. At that price the company is valued at 733m.

Made a profit?
Float price: 380p
Holding: 35 shares
Investment: 133
Value now: 170.62
Profit before dealing charge: 37.62
(Based on closing price of 487.5p)
As a result of the share offer being many times oversubscribed, individual investors who applied for shares will receive 35 each.

Last week the company increased the indicated price range to 320p to 380p from 190p to 230p in the face of frenzied demand for the stock.

Although official trading does not begin for a week, the shares were conditionally traded on Tuesday.


We think we have the potential to try and build a global brand

Martha Lane Fox
But the price did not increase as much as many small investors had hoped.

The company said that 188,995 private investors logged onto the web site in recent weeks to apply for the shares on offer.

The minimum value of shares they could apply for was 500. At the float price their 35 share allocation costs 133. The remaining 367 will be returned.

High profile

The share offer was by far the most popular internet retail offering seen in the UK and nearly 21 million shares changed hands - well over half the 33m offered.

The company offers flights, holidays and goods over the internet for late impulse buyers.

Demand for the shares has benefited from the company's high profile.

Founders Brent Hoberman, 31, and Martha Lane Fox, 27, have become the public face of internet start-ups in the UK during the past year.

The placing has made paper fortunes for both of them.

The pricing of the shares values Ms Lane Fox's stake in the firm at some 50m, while Mr Hoberman's shares will be worth 77m.

Reservations

While City experts were almost unanimous in expecting the shares to climb, not all believe that the company is being valued accurately.

Jeremy Batstone of NatWest Stockbrokers said: "I do not believe that when Lastminute.com is subjected to serious analysis it stands up as well as things like Yahoo!"

But Ms Lane Fox insisted that the company would emerge as a profitable business.

"We absolutely intend to make a real profit as soon as we can," she told the BBC.

"We think we have the potential to try and build a global brand at Lastminute.com. What has been very exciting over the last two years is seeing that no-one else is doing exactly what we do, anywhere around the world," she said.

"It's a very common misconception that internet businesses are easy to replicate - they absolutely are not.

"We have specially negotiated deals with over 1,100 suppliers, we have technology that has taken us nearly two years to build, we have 1.1 million people that we e-mail regularly as of the middle of February. That is hard to replicate."

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See also:

09 Mar 00 | Business
Lastminute ups its float price
09 Mar 00 | Business
FTSE fears as new ousts old
02 Mar 00 | Business
Martha my very dear
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