12 September 2000

Following last week’s false rumours that lossmaking online directory was about to be acquired by existing shareholder Vivendi, Scoot admitted yesterday that its lawyers had told the British High Court on September 4 that it was in advanced takeover talks.

According to Scoot chief executive Robert Bonnier, the statement by law firm, Charles Russell, was “an unfortunate mistake by a junior lawyer”.

Following the rumours, Scoot shares soared by more than 50%, although the company issued a formal denial on the afternoon of the 4th: “There has been no suggestion to date that Vivendi wishes to make an offer for the whole of the issued share capital of Scoot.” The timing of the denial angered many investors who protested that it had come too late.

Despite the denial, Bonnier admits that Scoot is currently exploring with Vivendi a variety of options, among them the possibility of the French media giant increasing its existing 22.4% holding.

Meantime, the Financial Services Authority confirmed yesterday that it is reviewing Scoot's behaviour following a complaint from a member of the public.

News source: Financial Times