Monday 27 September: VNU Newswire's roundup of the IT news from the national and international press.
The latest twist in the Ebay online auction saga found the company itself up for sale, reports The New York Times. The company has a market valuation of $18.8 billion and earned $2.8 million last year but received only seven bids closing at a high of $1.25. The company dismissed the sale as a funny hoax but said they would probably notify attorneys.
Autobytel.com, the US car buying site, is planning a major move into Western Europe, writes the Wall Street Journal. The company already has several Web sites in Europe and plans to set up new sites in France, Germany, Norway, Finland and Denmark. Autobytel launched a Swedish site in February and put Autobytel.co.uk online in April. The company said it had more than 6,000 car purchase requests in the UK's first four months of operation.
The Taiwanese earthquake could affect the earnings of Singapore electronic contract manufacturers, writes the San Jose Mercury. The short supply of components such as semiconductors may hinder the manufacturing of motherboards and computer systems. NatSteel Electronics, the electronics contract manufacturer, imports about 12 per cent of its components from Taiwan but said supplies were satisfactory at the moment.
The Guardian reports that Freeserve will underline its plans to launch an online auction service tomorrow. The move will add competition to QXL's online auction business and Ebay's plans to set up a European service. Freeserve, the free ISP, is also expected to reveal that it has increased total subscriber numbers by only 100,000 over the summer due to the launch of other similar services.
Prudential has appointed Goldman Sachs as its advisor on the flotation of the direct banking arm Egg, reports the Financial Times. Egg has had valuations ranging from £800 million to £3.6 billion and has taken £6.7 billion into saving accounts. A flotation of Egg is not expected until next year.
Debates over which city is the capital of the Internet has caught the eye of The Guardian today. The paper writes that Virginia, home to companies such as AOL and MCI Worldcom, has recently begun a campaign that it is the capital. The newspaper suggests other cities may instead deserve the title, including Cern, in Switzerland, where Tim Berners Lee designed the World Wide Web.
Business Week writes that Europe is fast eating away at US Internet domination. It is predicted that the number of online households in Europe will triple over the next five years and already in Iceland, Finland and Sweden there is a higher proportion of Internet usage than the US. IT spending in Britain as a share of gross domestic product has risen by one third over the past three years.
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