New Vivendi buyout rumours boost Scoot

Shares are up as papers speculate Vivendi may be bargain-hunting

Shares in Scoot (quote: SCO), the UK-based directory service, soared for a second day Wednesday morning as rumours of a takeover by France's Vivendi Universal resurfaced.

By 10.18am GMT, the company's stock was up 17-3/4 pence or 24 percent at 92 pence, extending Tuesday's rally, which helped lift it off more than one-year lows hit early in January and valued the five-and-a-half year-old company at almost £550m.

Shares were rising on the back of newspaper reports citing market rumours that Vivendi was about to launch a bid or was already in talks to buy the UK firm. Vivendi already has a 22.4 percent stake in Scoot.com. "It's been mentioned in three different papers today, saying there is a possibility of a bid from Vivendi," said one market maker.

No one at Scoot.com was immediately available for comment.

The Daily Telegraph reported rumours that Vivendi was already in talks to buy the 77.6 percent of Scoot.com which the French firm does not own.

Similar talk that Vivendi was looking to make a bid sent Scoot.com shares soaring in September. At the time Scoot denied the rumours.

The company, which offers directory services through the Internet, mobiles and telephones, and which recently purchased the classifieds paper Loot, has suffered from the same investor malaise that has hit Yahoo!, AOL and other Internet giants. Even after its recent gains Scoot shares are worth less than a quarter of their March 2000 level, making the group a bargain.

Scoot also operates in the Netherlands, Belgium and France and has established a joint venture with Vivendi to extend across Europe in the next three years.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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