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Last minute success

Dot com. The phrase is synonymous with failure and self-delusion. But some people are making money out of the internet, even if it is only the city slickers who set up this deal.

Lastminute.com announced yesterday it had raised €103m (£74.6m) through a placing in convertible bonds which the online travel agent will use to continue its acquisition spree and develop products.

The rapidly expanding company said last month that it expects to post its first net profit by 2005. It has spent about £98m in the last two years on purchases, including the acquisition of the travel company Holiday Autos.

The bonds, which will mature in 2008, will convert into shares of Lastminute.com at 364.5p, 28 per cent more than Monday’s closing price, the company said in a statement.

Well I don’t know what all that means, but it sounds to me like someone reckons that lastminute is doing some real business.

My reaction to the story was to go myself to the lastminute.com website itself, which I’d never got around to doing before. A tenner for a theatre ticket? Hey, these guys are ticket touts! (Of the nice kind, who lost their bet.) I might have some of that myself, and then maybe I could write about it and double my theatre-going pleasure. Normally London theatre is nearer thirty quid, which is beyond what I’ll pay for something that only might be excellent.

The internet continues to work its economic magic. It isn’t just for give-it-away pulpiteers like us.

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5 comments to Last minute success

  • Some time ago the Economist had an article about the remaining Dot Coms as well many of the more recently founded being much more resilient and profitable than those which went under during the crash.

    Btw, I found the hype over Lastminute.com a bit enervating sometimes; the way the media concentrated on that chick and ignored everybody else there was pretty silly.

  • I booked a ticket from Last Minute for a flight ticket for a family friend.

    Much to my embarrassement, no ticket was available when the friend turned up at the airport.

    After several months of trying to get a refund, I consulted the Consumers Association who advised me to sue using the online court system (that few people know about). I got my fund within eight days.

    If companies are going to be successful in online business, then they must give the customer the opportunity to cummunicate with them when things go wrong.

    Last Minute is like an iron fortess when you need customer service.

  • The internet really did change the world, and it changed the way in which I go about shopping for a lot of things. However. It didn’t create a lot of viable companies, but it did create some. Now we are finding out who they are.

  • Jacob

    “It didn’t create a lot of viable companies, but it did create some. ”

    The internet created a lot of viable companies along with a lot of other viable businesses that depend on the internet.
    Many internet enterprises failed. So what ? As many as 90 or 95% of new restaurants (or any other new business) fail too. That’s life, trial and error.
    I don’t think the dot.com businesses failed at a greater rate than others.

  • Johnathan

    Brian, nice piece. A factual point – a convertible bond is a bond which enables the bond holders to convert their holdings in Lastminute.com into an equity stake in the business at a future date. The fact that such a bond can be sold in the market at all speaks well of investors’ perceptions of that business.