lastminute.com off to flying start

Price rockets as unofficial trading begins

One of Britain's largest Internet flotations got under way Tuesday as lastminute.com shares began unofficial trading. The much-hyped site sells off unused inventory at cut-rate prices, offering everything from package holidays to consumer products.

Shares were floated at 380p, but had already risen to 517.5p before 0900 GMT. By midday they had settled to around 502p, and they closed at 465p. lastminute.com has said that 188,995 private investors had logged onto the Web site in the run-up to floatation to apply for shares.

As a result of the oversubscription, private investors who applied for shares will only receive 35 each.

The shares won't be launched officially for another week, but the shares have received their final pricing, allowing trading on the so-called "grey market" to begin.

Two weeks ago the company said it would sell 33 million new shares, or 22 percent of the newly public company, at 190p to 230p a share. It put a £316m price tag on itself. Co-founders Brent Hoberman and Martha Lane Fox stand to make £68m and £45m, respectively.

More details to follow.

The lastminute.com flotation is causing shares to jump, Guy kewney knows it is all going to end in tears. Go to AnchorDesk UK for the news comment.

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