London-based online directory business has been jilted by French media group Vivendi Universal, already a shareholder in the business and with which it was engaged in rescue talks. The collapse came after Scoot rejected an initial indicative offer from Vivendi of 15p a share, valuing the company at £103 million ($144m) but dismissed as “wholly inadequate”.

As news of the pull-out reached the markets, Scoot shares plummeted 26% to 10p. A Vivendi takeover had been seen as the best hope of salvation for the cash-haemorrhaging company which posted a pre-tax loss of £71.5m in the fifteen months to December 31 last year.

According to Scoot, whose balance sheet shows a cash reserve of less than £30m, it is unlikely to move out of the red for another two years. A quick deal with another European online directory business is on the cards - perhaps with Wanadoo of France or Italy’s Seat Pagine Gialle.

Another cash-raising option would be the sale of Loot, the UK free ads newspaper which Scoot bought a year back with the aid of a £178m cash injection from Vivendi.

News source: Financial Times