Scoot’s Hard Choice: Sell ‘Loot’ or Go Under

10 August 2001

Beleaguered on- and off-line directory group is now pursuing its management’s “worst case scenario” – the sale of its profitable Loot classified advertising subsidiary – in order to stave off likely bankruptcy.

The London-headquartered group last month unloaded its liability-ridden Scoot Europe business, complete with £92.5 million in debt, to Vivendi Universal [WAMN: 27-Jul-01]. Despite this it now faces a £22m funding shortfall and requires a substantial cash injection in order to continue trading beyond August 27.

The Loot business, bought by Scoot last year for £178 million in cash, is not expected to realise more than half that sum – sufficient nevertheless to hold its army of creditors at bay and fund a survival plan.

Uncharacteristically silent at the moment is Scoot’s colourful former chief executive Robert Bonnier – also its second-largest shareholder with a 7.3% stake – who resigned in June purportedly for “personal reasons” and as an element in a “strategic reorientation” [WAMN: 28-Jun-01].

Scoot shares which at the height of dotcom euphoria stood at 351.5p now languish at 3.27p.

News source: The Times (London)