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Friday, 2 June, 2000, 11:03 GMT 12:03 UK
Lastminute clinches Microsoft deal
Expedia and lastminute logos
Expedia's services will be joined by an auction channel and lastminute offers
Internet firm Lastminute.com has struck an exclusive content deal with Microsoft's UK travel service Expedia.co.uk.

Lastminute will hope the deal may halt the dramatic slide in its share price since its much hyped float in mid-March.

The deal will see it become the content provider for Expedia's new auction and 'lastminute' channels, to be launched in summer.

The Expedia web site currently only sells services which are booked more than 72 hours prior to departure.

Microsoft's travel service offers online booking of hotels, flights, car rental and holidays.

Linking up with Lastminute.com will add theatre tickets and restaurant bookings to its product range.

Good news for investors

The deal with a strong partner like Microsoft will be welcome news for Lastminute.com shareholders, who have seen the value of their investment plummet by 75% from its peak.

By noon, its shares had gained 11 pence to 141.5p. Investors had to pay 380p per share when Lastminute.com listed on the London Stock Exchange.

The firm had been criticised for a sharp rise in its original flotation price target shortly before its listing.

Trading began at the worst possible moment, as internet and technology stocks around the world began to take a dive.

Fierce competition in the travel market and doubts over Lastminute.com's profitability further hurt the firm's share price.

A string of problems connected with the issuing of share certificates after the flotation did further damage to Lastminute's reputation.

On the upside, the pricey flotation raised so much money for the company that it should be able to sit out the current tech stock trouble as long as it manages to keep its cash flow going.

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See also:

31 May 00 | Business
The web's economic miracle
04 May 00 | Business
Lastminute.com losses mount
18 Apr 00 | Business
The great web share 'clear-out`
09 Mar 00 | Business
Expedia sales surge
04 Apr 00 | Business
Apology for Lastminute bungles
17 Mar 00 | Business
Lastminute loss for investors
09 Apr 00 | Business
Lastminute grabs travel spotlight
31 Mar 00 | Business
More trouble for Lastminute.com
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