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Online estate agent plans stock market float

Will Rightmove and Playtech prove that companies in the UK Internet sector can again enjoy financial success?

Online property site Rightmove is planning to float on the London stock market in March.

With casino software developer Playtech also planning to join the market, there is evidence of growing confidence in the financial health of the Internet sector.

Rightmove, which hosts information about properties for sale or rent, was founded five years ago. Its five existing owners — mortgage bank HBOS, estate agents Connells and Countrywide, Skipton Building Society and life insurer Royal & Sun Alliance — plan to sell around a quarter of the business to new investors.

City analysts have estimated that it will value Rightmove at between £200m and £400m.

In 2005, Rightmove had revenues of £18.2m, mainly from estate agents who pay to advertise their properties on the site. This gave it an operating profit of £9.2m.

If Rightmove's floatation is successful, it could encourage other survivors of the dot-com crash to consider a stock market flotation.

Online casino software developer Playtech announced on Friday that it hopes to raise £175 million pounds through a flotation that would value it around £550m. This follows earlier flotations by Internet gambling sites Empire Online, PartyGaming and 888 Holdings.