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RealTime IT News

Firstream Commits $77.5 Million to Expansion

[June 20] Pan-European Internet group Firstream announced Tuesday an investment of $77.5 million to expand its operations in Europe and the United States.

Among Firstream's premier sites are the European student portal icicampus.com which provides Internet access for 1.2 million students; befoot.com, a French football statistics site ("Tous les jours, tout le foot -- c4est BeFoot") that is now being readied for Italy; and the online film production and distribution site universtream.com.

The injection of capital into Firstream comes from existing shareholders including Chief Executive and President Jean-Christophe Chopin and ILFC founder Lou Gonda, one of Idealab's original shareholders.

"The funds will be primarily dedicated to developing our own existing Internet and telecom businesses or to acquire majority stakes in complementary ventures as well as established off-line businesses," said Chopin.

Firstream operates across a wide spectrum of Internet-related activities, managing ISPs while also providing unified messaging, virtual desktop, click-to-talk, virtual storage and Web collaboration services. Its annual revenues approach $4 million.

Chopin, who developed E*Trade in France, Benelux and Italy then sold the business back to E*Trade, believes that Firstream's B2B operations will show especially strong growth in coming months. The company's B2B subsidiary already deals with 600 companies.

Yet another side of Firstream's business is the French online advertising agency ideadvert.com, a service that Firstream plans to roll out in Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K.

Other B2B operations include a specialist online insurance service provider named Assuronline, which Firstream says has over 15,000 customers, and CIL, a French e-logistic/delivery service.