Scoot-Lycos deal 'false'

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The Independent Online

Scoot, the near-bankrupt online directories business, has admitted its claims of signing a deal with internet company Lycos were false.

The news comes as the troubled company prepares to sell its profitable classified advertising business Loot to continue trading past August. The company said last week it had secured a deal with Lycos to act as its internet directory provider.

But a Lycos spokeswoman said the company had not done a deal. Lycos already had an agreement with internet directory business UKphonebook.com.

Afterwards Scoot's spokeswoman confirmed: "It was our error, not a deliberate falsification." Scoot had also claimed it had signed a similar deal with internet company Supernet. Again, it has back-tracked and admitted nothing concrete is in place.

Last week, Scoot was dropped by Yahoo!'s UK and Ireland internet portal in favour of Yell. Scoot's survival now largely depends on the sale of Loot. Scoot bought the magazine business for £190m at the height of the internet frenzy. Today analysts believe Scoot will only raise £50m from the sale. Two weeks ago Scoot warned it would run out of money at the end of August unless it secured more cash.

Scoot's troubles were revealed when it sold its continental European business to France's Vivendi for just 61p. It included £92.5m of liabilities.

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