Voracious Italian internet services provider Tiscali yesterday reported Q1 losses better than halved following a draconian cost-cutting drive that saw staff and marketing costs fall like tenpins.

EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) for the three months to March 30 produced a deficit of E58.1 million, in line with market expectations and a significant improvement on Q4 2000 when losses hit E140m.

During the quarter, marketing costs fell from E77m to E30m, while staff costs were more than halved from E55m to E26m. Overall operating costs slimmed by thirty-five percent.

The Rome-headquartered online giant has extended its tentacles across Europe via a raft of acquisitions, snapping-up four national ISPs in under a year: Netherlands-based World Online, LineOne in the UK, Liberty Surf of France and Germany's Planet Interkom. Tiscali now claims seven million unique users across the continent – although in no country has it become market leader.

News source: Financial Times