LetsBuyIt.com stock crashes as trading resumes

Trading resumes on LetsBuyIt stock but concern in the markets hits it hard

Internet retailer LetsBuyIt.com saw its shares plummet Tuesday morning as they resumed trading after being suspended Friday.

The company's stock dropped 70 percent to 0.40 euros in trading on Frankfurt's Neuer Markt. Although LetsBuyIt.com was still accepting new members Tuesday, it was not taking customer orders.

Trading in LetsBuyIt.com stock was halted Friday after its Amsterdam-based holding company, LetsBuyIt.com NV, was granted a moratorium on debt repayments under Dutch law.

LetsBuyIt, which is not expected to break even until mid-2002, claims to have cash reserves of "at least" 18m euros (£11.3m). It is looking to raise 80m euros from both new and existing investors -- which would allow it to continue operating beyond mid-2001.

According to the Financial Times Tuesday, Martin Coles, chief executive of LetsBuyIt, says the company is in talks with "three or four interested parties".

One of LetsBuyIt's existing investors has already announced that it will not step in to save the struggling dot-com. German media company ProSieben, which already owns a 25.1 percent stake in LetsBuyIt, has revealed that it has no plans for a fresh cash injection.

LetsBuyIt.com floated on the London stock market in July 2000 but only raised 66m euros, compared to its original target of 130m euros.

Having planned to go public in May with its shares valued at around 15 euros, unfavourable market conditions forced the company to delay its IPO twice -- finally floating at 3.5 euros per share.

Several high-profile UK dot-coms collapsed in late 2000. In October music retailer Boxman sought voluntary liquidation, as did property website Easier.co.uk in November.

Other start-ups, such as Lastminute.com and Freeserve, have seen their share prices plunge below their flotation value.

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