Lycos Europe admits defeat in search for investor

FRANKFURT Wed Nov 26, 2008 10:43am EST

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Loss-making Lycos Europe plans to sell some of its assets and close the rest after failing to find an investor, the company said on Wednesday.

Lycos Europe -- which provides Internet search, Web hosting, email, social networking and online shopping tools -- said its management and supervisory boards had concluded that the best available option was to seek the sale of its domains, its Danish portal and shopping activities.

Lycos Europe, which had a staff of 694 at the end of September, almost two-thirds of whom were employed in Germany, said it will close its Web hosting and portal business.

The rest of Lycos, still one of the world's top Internet portals, is owned by South Korean Internet company Daum Communications.

The Lycos Europe move, which needs to be approved by shareholders at a meeting on December 12, is the result of a strategic review begun earlier this year.

The company, based in the Dutch city of Haarlem near Amsterdam, also said it wanted to distribute 50 million euros ($64.8 million) to its shareholders in 2008.

Lycos Europe is controlled by German media group Bertelsmann and Spanish telecoms company Telefonica.

Shares in Lycos Europe were up 4.2 percent at 0.25 euros, around 1 percent of the 24 euros at which they were sold in the company's oversubscribed initial public offering in 2000.

The group has a market capitalization of 45 million euros.

The company, struggling with fierce competition from search engine giants such as Google and Yahoo as well as sinking online revenue, posted a net loss of 17.1 million euros in the first nine months of the year on sales of 46.9 million euros.

The head of Lycos Europe, Bertelsmann heir Christoph Mohn, said in May he saw the company as an attractive target for a U.S. or Asian buyer.

(Reporting by Nicola Leske; Editing by David Holmes)

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