Life in the Fast Lane

Gregory Alan Bolcer (
Wed, 04 Aug 1999 15:04:06 -0700

Dell invested in this company for $257M crowns for 5% and then
saw their stock rise 190 crowns per share. That puts Dell's 5% at roughly
$43M crowns. It would have been interesting to see a net neutral investment.
Fast's other partner is TIBCO, one of my other favorite companies.

In other corporate portal news, Onyx Software gains a workflow member on their board.


Norway's Fast seeks
Internet partners

OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian Internet firm Fast,
rocketing in value after it unveiled a draft pact with Dell
Computer Corp. and a new search engine, said on
Wednesday it was seeking more partners to help expand.

``We're not out looking for investors, we're looking for
strategic partners,'' Thomas Fussell, chairman of Fast
Search and Transfer (, told Reuters.

He declined to name possible allies but said that Fast needed to develop all aspects of
Internet search. It hopes to sell to portals, other search engines and content sites.

Shares in Fast rose to an early record of 190 crowns on Wednesday in the Oslo over
the counter market, up from 170 on Tuesday. That values the company at about 6.6
billion crowns ($856 million) -- abruptly making it one of Norway's biggest
information technology stocks.

A year ago, the shares were worth a scant 22 crowns. In early afternoon, they slipped
to 180.

Shares in Norwegian computer data storage firm Opticom, which has 43.9 percent in
Fast, also hit an early record of 327 crowns on the Oslo bourse, up 28 from Tuesday,
before slipping to 308.

Opticom shares have soared from a 1999 low of 70.

Fussell, who is also Opticom chairman, said he did not find the giddy rises worrying.
``We try to keep people informed. They just have to keep an eye on the
fundamentals,'' he said.

The daily Aftenposten said on Wednesday that Fast could prove to be Norway's
greatest industrial fairytale. Less flatteringly, the financial daily Dagens Naeringsliv
described Opticom's surge as ``hysteria.''

Fast on Monday announced a two-pronged pact with Dell, under which Dell would
take a five percent stake in Fast for 257 million crowns if the companies agree a
related deal on promotion, marketing, sale and distribution.

Under the memorandum of understanding, the two firms gave themselves 45 days to
reach a final deal.

``The two things are closely linked. They would like to be a shareholder if we do
business together,'' Fussell said.

He said some investors apparently believed that the share purchase was certain. But
he added that the deal with Dell ``didn't come out of the blue...this is the last leg of
long negotiations.''

Fast's other main existing partner apart from Dell is TIBCO Software Inc.

Traders said that Fast shares dipped from the peaks on a twinge of uncertainty about
the Dell accord.

``In the worst case in some days there could be a new press release saying the Dell
accord has fallen through. Then Fast will be back at 120 crowns,'' one said.

Fast on Monday launched what it calls the world's biggest search engine, capable of
scanning 200 million of the Web's estimated 800 million pages with the help of Dell
computers. The company -figure unreadable- is aiming for a listing on Nasdaq.

Internet search is dominated by Inktomi Corp, based in San Mateo, California, which
scans 110 million pages. Privately-run Massachusetts-based Northern Light
Technology says it can search 150 million.

Fast says that it aims to extend its search to the entire Web within a year. Fussell said
that investments to do so would amount to only ``millions of dollars.''

Fussell said Opticom had no plans to cut or raise its stake in Fast. ``Opticom does not
need cash at the moment so we don't see ourselves selling shares in the near future,''
he said. ``And I don't think we can talk about buying shares -- Opticom is not an
investment company.''