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Scoot.com May Buy U.K. Classified Publisher Loot

Scoot.com caught absent London traders unawares on Easter Monday by revealing that it has started negotiations to buy classified advertising newspaper Loot.

Scoot.com says it has the backing of communications group Vivendi which will provide financing for the Loot acquisition. Vivendi is a major shareholder in Scoot.com.

Robert Bonnier, chief executive officer of Scoot.com, approved a statement that no further information would be issued at this stage. The board of Scoot.com plc has taken no decision yet to purchase Loot and says that talks are still at an early stage.

A final decision about the purchase is not expected until the beginning of June, 2000, say reports. According to information from Scoot, Vivendi has agreed to accept a private placement of Scoot shares at a premium of 178-1/4 pence.

Before the Easter break, Scoot closed in London at 156-3/4 pence and at $46-14/32 on the U.S. Nasdaq on Wednesday.

In recent years, newspaper Loot has grown to become one of the best sources of classified advertising for U.K. consumers, and is available from nearly all newsagents in Britain. It also runs a busy Web site which would be extensively developed if the purchase by Scoot becomes reality.

Towards the end of 1999 Scoot announced a joint venture with Vivendi to introduce its services throughout Europe over the next three years. It already operates in the Netherlands and Belgium through a joint venture with VNU.