fires 220, lastminute loses altitude

Dot com startups facing continued turbulence as investors bail out

Dot com startups continued to struggle Tuesday, as's liquidators laid off most of the company's staff and the share price of travel site hit a new low.

lastminute bottomed out at 122.5p Monday, less than a third of its flotation price. The 52-week low valued the company at £184m, less than a third of its flotation value of £571m. Shares rose Tuesday and had reached 132p by midday.

In the meantime, staff of -- the first of Britain's dot com startups to go bust -- found out their fates Tuesday: 220 of 250 were laid off. This follows a round of layoffs earlier in the year when the company struggled to cut costs. Those losing their jobs will probably not qualify for redundancy payments as the company has only been trading for six months, but recruiting agencies are said to be making offers to those facing the chopping block.

Liquidators said the move was made to protect the company's remaining funds. They said they will be negotiating with potential buyers throughout the week and hope to reach a deal "within days".

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