Shares in lastminute.com soared more than 40 per cent yesterday after the online travel firm and former darling of the dotcom boom confirmed it had received a takeover approach.
The interest was disclosed in a brief statement to the London Stock Exchange, but it did not include the identity of the potential bidder.
Lastminute shares initially surged 43 per cent, but later trimmed some of the increase for a rise of 31 per cent, adding around £100 million to the firm's market value.
However, the stock was still way off the peak seen during the tech boom of 560p, and the 3133/4p achieved in 2003.
The statement said: "The board of lastminute.com notes today's share price movement and confirms that it has received an approach which may or may not result in an offer being made for the company. A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate."
The approach comes less than two months after the company reached the fifth anniversary of its high-profile flotation on the stock market.
The tech bubble burst soon after the listing, but lastminute carried on trading to become one of the few survivors from the boom period of 1999 and early 2000.
Lastminute is now one of the best known names in its sector, providing travel and leisure offers directly in 13 European countries and also has two international joint ventures. It employs more than 2,000 people.
Potential bidders for the company could include USbased travel and property giant Cendant, which recently built up its portfolio of assets in Europe by acquiring ebookers in deal worth more than £200 million.
Hilary Cook of Barclays Stockbrokers said: "If you're a competitor there are obviously benefits from running the businesses off one platform.
"There may also be interest from private equity companies as this is a cash generative business that should be able to pay down debt quickly."
Robin Chabra, an industry analyst at brokers Evolution Securities, tipped Expedia as a potential bidder. "There's a lot of consolidation in the sector. To make money in the online travel business, you need scale," he said. Shares closed up 473/4p at 153p.