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Friday, 22 September, 2000, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
AltaVista heads for flotation
AltaVista web page
After two false starts, AltaVista is again readying for a share sale
The owner of AltaVista has said it will float the internet search engine and portal on the US stock market early next year.

CMGI, an internet investment company which acquired AltaVista for about $2.4bn in 1998, said it would take the portal public by the end of the first quarter of 2001.

CMGI chairman David Wetherell said this would be "optimal timing", adding that AltaVista's North American operations were expected to become profitable by the end of the quarter ending 31 January.

Plans for a flotation earlier this year were abandoned as fears over the financial viability of internet firms swept the market and investors lost confidence.

Those plans were to have entailed the offering of 14.8 million shares in a deal valued at more than $255m.

CMGI declined to give details of its new plans for AltaVista's flotation.

Staff cuts

Last Friday, AltaVista said it was cutting its staff by 25% as part of attempts to accelerate progress to profitability.

CMGI, with investments and operations spanning 70 internet companies, has also yet to break even.

The company reported revenue for the quarter ended 31 July up 568% at $377.2m. But net losses remained heavy at $633.7m.

The search and portals division, which includes AltaVista, posted an operating loss of $307m on revenue of about $98m, CMGI said.

Depressed market

AltaVista was first lined up for flotation in 1996 but that deal was also cancelled due to depressed market conditions.

It was later acquired by computer maker Compaq, as part of its takeover of Digital Equipment. Compaq then spun off the portal two years later.

AltaVista now claims to have more than 65 million users a month, more than half of whom are outside North America.

It has seven country-specific search engines in Europe in addition to an Indian site and its main US site.

Earlier this week, AltaVista said it planned to set up 35 more country-specific sites in the next 10 months.

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See also:

30 Aug 00 | Business
Altavista UK boss resigns
23 Aug 00 | Business
Watchdog 'taken in' by Altavista
22 Aug 00 | Business
Altavista blames BT for 'fiasco'
16 Apr 00 | Business
AltaVista postpones flotation
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