Procter seeks saviour for

Jane Procter


Celebrity gossip site editor-in-chief Jane Procter was this week fighting to save from going under.

She was "still hopeful" that new backers would be found to replace her main investors, Syntek Capital, who pulled out on Tuesday, forcing her to call in the liquidators.

A deal with a major television company is a possibility and talks have been going on with other investors who have shown an interest.

"We are still publishing and it is important that we go on doing so. In the past couple of days the number of visits to our site has been enormous," said Procter.

"Two or three people have been in discussion with us for several weeks and we are hoping that we will do a deal with somebody this week. There are a lot of people circling around," she added.

In the current internet climate, however, potential investors are wary and it could well be too late to save the jobs of the 16 journalists, designers and sales staff working on the site which launched 18 months ago.

They may also be waiting until the eleventh hour in the hope that the price will drop.

"We obviously don’t want to take it to the wall and owe people money.

We would rather it was wound up cleanly," said Procter, who added that she was "extremely proud" of what they had achieved and was disappointed that plans for expansion had to be scrapped because of the collapse.

"When we launched in a completely different climate we were going to have 20 peoplenews sites around the world. Then, when the crash came, that had to be put on the back burner. So we had too many senior people for a one-country site."

Chief executive Simon Walker said he had been in talks with three companies over the weekend but they had broken down when they failed to reach an agreement on the terms of ownership.

Despite the setback, he said: "I think we have got a reasonable chance of doing a deal." He added that had been close to breaking even before the liquidators were called in.

By Philippa Kennedy and Ruth Addicott

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