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Wednesday, 22 March, 2000, 16:38 GMT
Further fall for Lastminute shares
Brent Hoberman and Martha Lane Fox
Brent Hoberman and Martha Lane Fox: Fortunes fallen
Shares in Lastminute.com, the internet travel business, have fallen a further 10% - almost 1 below their issue price of 3.80.

At the end of trading the shares were worth 2.875 each.

Wednesday's fall follows a drop of 16.44% on Tuesday to 3.20.

The company partially floated this month amid a flood of publicity, and the offer was many times over-subscribed.


Martha and Brent's loss-per-minute
Brent Hoberman's stake is worth 40.9m at a share price of 285p. Last Tuesday it was worth 75m
Martha Lane Fox's 50m stake is now worth 26.7m.
Loss-per-minute in the past week:
Brent Hoberman: 2,599
Martha Lane Fox: 1,795
Shares rose sharply in conditional trading last week, but have gradually slipped back.

The latest fall in the share price means that the company is now valued at about 420m, compared with 733m at the end of the first day's trading.

The price fall came amid news that Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, the internet retailer's underwriter, is not supporting the company's falling share price.

News about a Lastminute.com alliance with AOL Europe, giving it access to millions of European households, failed to lift the stock.

Bursting bubble?

The fall in the share price will no doubt bring renewed predictions from those who believe the internet investment bubble is ready to burst.

Critics ask how companies with such small revenues - and often no profits - can be valued so much more highly than industrial concerns with successful track records.

However, in previous internet floats, such as Freeserve, the share price fell initially before rising strongly.

But for the moment, Martha Lane Fox and Brent Hoberman have still made paper fortunes.

Technology stocks in general have had a lousy time recently.

Europe's largest web flotation, internet service provider WorldOnline, fell 20% to 29.95 euros on Tuesday.

When its shares floated on the Amsterdan stock exchange on Monday, it had a price tag of 43 euros.

Shares restricted

Lastminute - founded by Martha Lane Fox and Brent Hoberman - has captured the public imagination as a quintessential internet company.

The float was the most popular internet retail offering seen so far.

The company said that 188,995 private investors logged onto the website to apply for shares.

Because of the demand for shares, individual investors were allocated only 35 each.

"It was an overpriced and overhyped issue which failed to command support in the market, and people are trying to get out," said one analyst.

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14 Mar 00 | Business
Lastminute shares close up 28%
15 Mar 00 | Business
Floating out of favour?
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