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WILink.com plc Snaps Up Webcasting Services

With the theory of helping companies better represent themselves to investors in light of the Securities and Exchange Commission's Fair Disclosure clause, WILink.com plc. Monday bought Webcasting specialists Vcall and Investor Conference from Investor Broadcast Network Inc.

A departure from all-stock, all-cash, or mix-and-match deals of cash and stock, the agreement calls for WILink to pay $5.5 million in cash up front, with a performance-based clause maximum of $18.4 million to Feb. 28, 2003. Any subsequent earn-out would be paid in cash or WILink stock, at the discretion of WILink's directors.

Vcall provides free access to live and archived streaming audio Webcasts. WILink clients, such as investor relations managers and firms, will be able to stream events such as quarterly earnings calls, annual shareholder meetings and press conferences on mergers or product announcements.

Similar to Vcall, but a bit more tailored for the investment-side, InvestorConference.com offers investment banks, brokerages and industry associations access to Webcasts of their seminars, conferences, investor presentations, interactive e-mail Q and A and expert commentary.

WILink plans to run both services as part of its new wholly-owned subsidiary, Vcall Inc. Monday's deal approaches a more important chore for public companies than just disseminating useful data: the idea of disclosing their financials to investors quite clearly through the use of Webcasting is vital for addressing "fair disclosure" rules.

J. Patrick Galleher, chief operating officer of WILink's parent firm World Investor Link Inc, cited the increasing use of Webcasting to comply with the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) Fair Disclosure (Regulation FD) requirements.

"We see this acquisition as a major cornerstone of World Investor Link's strategy of introducing well-informed investors to public companies through the Internet and leading financial publications, while helping companies implement customized Webcasting solutions to meet the requirements of Regulation FD," Galleher said. "Vcall.com and InvestorConference.com both help their clients avoid making selective disclosure by making public disclosure accessible to all investors."

The National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI) said shortly before Regulation FD went into effect last November that over 60 percent of the more than 2,500 companies represented by its members use Webcasting, with another 23 percent saying they planned to do so soon.

World Investor Link offers The Annual Reports Service and The Fund Info Service through relationships with financial publications and Web sites like The Wall Street Journal, Barron's, The Globe and Mail, Yahoo! Finance and Amex.com.