News Burst: Lastminute.com buys French company for £59m

Degriftour takeover increases European market share and speeds up drive to profitability

Lastminute.com could creep into the black earlier than anticipated after its £59m buyout of French online travel agency Degriftour, announced Monday.

Lastminute and other dot-coms have faced increasing investor pressure to make profits as quickly as possible as share prices have plummeted and Internet idealism has faded.

The takeover of privately-owned Degriftour will make Lastminute the leading European travel site in terms of online revenue, as well as giving it leading market share in both the UK and France. Industry analysts say the combined company could reach profitability six to 12 months earlier than Lastminute's original target at the end of 2003.

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