Freeserve set for loss in its maiden figures

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The Independent Online
FREESERVE WILL celebrate its maiden first-quarter figures today with a share price which opens at exactly the same level as when the company was floated in July. After its recent battering the share price added 15p yesterday to close at 150p.

Freeserve is expected to report a quarterly loss before tax and exceptional items of around pounds 6m.

Analysts at Merrill Lynch predict active subscriber numbers to have increased modestly to between 1.4 million and 1.5 million from 1.32 million at the end of June. They forecast revenues to come in at pounds 2.9m.

The Internet price war heated up again yesterday withFreeserve and AOL UK announcing new discounts. AOL has cut to 1p per minute from the cost of dial-up connections for people paying the pounds 9.99 monthly subscription fee. This undercuts peak-time call rates from BT and other telephone service providers.

Meanwhile, Freeserve announced its new Freeserve Time plan, in conjunction with telecoms company Energis.

If users spend between pounds 3 and pounds 10 per month on calls, they will qualify for three hours of completely free Internet access, with no call charges.

If they notch up more than pounds 10 per month, they will be rewarded with 10 hours of free call access to the Net. The free Internet calls can only be used after 6pm on weekdays, or all day at weekends.