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Naspers is mystery buyer for QXL



Former dotcom darling QXL Ricardo is this week expected to fall to a £750m-plus bid from surprise buyer Naspers, the South African media group.

When the online auctioneer revealed it was in offer talks in November, both US behemoth eBay and Chinese web giant were tipped as the mystery bidder.

Naspers is expected to pay around £17 a share for QXL which is changing its name to Tradus - compared with Friday's closing price of £16.55, up 25p.

Briefly worth £2bn before the dotcom bubble popped, QXL is one of the only remaining UK-listed survivors from the pre-millenial web boom.

Having watched eBay hoover up much of the UK market, it now makes most of its money in Poland.

Naspers was founded in Cape Town in 1915. It started life as a newspaper publisher but has expanded into pay-television and web services.

Its still makes more than three quarters of its revenues in South Africa but has moved into Sub-Saharan Africa, Greece, Cyprus, the Netherlands, the US, Thailand and China.

It is seeking to cash in on booming internet access in Brazil and China, and last week acquired Polish instant-messaging company Gadu-Gadu.

QXL has seen its shares almost triple this year since resolving long-running litigation which had dogged its Polish operations.

In the last six months underlying profits leapt 28pc to £7.7m on sales 56pc higher at £30.6m.

Founded in 1997 by former Financial Times journalist Tim Jackson, QXL was briefly worth £2bn in the year 2000.

Dutch venture-capital firm Florissant and Israeli consortium Izaki still hold significant stakes having trimmed their holdings after separately trying to buy the company.

QXL is today chaired by former NTL boss Simon Duffy. The company also has a presence in the Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary.

QXL declined to comment.



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