Lastminute travels further from core business with Urbanbite.com buy

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The Independent Online

Lastminute.com, the internet group run by Brent Hoberman and Martha Lane Fox, yesterday expanded further away from its core travel and leisure operations with the £140,000 all-paper acquisition of Urbanbite.com.

The online take-away food business claims to be Europe's biggest fast food site handling thousands of orders per month for its 5,000 registered members.

Zsolt Kohalmi, a former ABN Amro banker, and the internet entrepreneur Reinier Evers set up Urbanbite in December 1999 with financial backing from US internet business Agency.com and Dutch investor Newconomy Ventures. The UK arm is a free site that allows people in London and Bristol to order food from local restaurants to be delivered to their doors. The company, which has 100,000 euros (£61,000) in the bank, makes money by charging the 550 featured restaurants a percentage of customers' bills. It also runs a similar service in the Dutch cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam and plans to launch in Manchester, Utrecht and The Hague soon.

The acquisition is Lastminute's second this year but substantially smaller than the £59m it paid for French internet travel rival Degriftour. Lastminute, chaired by the former Asda boss Allan Leighton, also recently formed a venture with Granada and ITV to launch sports websites. Lastminute shares, which floated in March last year at 380p, were unchanged at 31.5p yesterday.

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