The oxygen of hard cash has rescued ailing ISP Breathe from asphyxiation at the eleventh hour.

Great Universal Stores, Britain's largest mail order retailer, has resuscitated Breathe via its retail catalogue chain subsidiary Argos. The ISP, now in administration but formerly owned by mobile phone retail tycoon Martin Dawes, went to the wall in December with debts of around £50 million [WAMN: 19-Dec-00].

GUS has acquired Breathe’s assets and technology from administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers for a mere £1.4m but assumes no responsibility for its debts. Which means little chance of redress for the estimated 50,000 subscribers who lost money after the ISP’s sudden collapse.

But although GUS is more interested in the company’s technology and management than its future as an ISP, at least eighty of 140 jobs will be saved at Breathe’s London and Warrington offices.

Says a GUS spoke: "The main reason Breathe was attractive to GUS was to help it expand its capabilities in the remote shopping market. The service will remain as it is, in the short term, but there will be changes going forward."

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)