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MotherNature.com Swallows Bitter Pill

Two weeks after Internet holding firm Sitestar withdrew its bid to acquire MotherNature.com Inc., the online healthstore folded Tuesday.

The troubled company's board has called for a special meeting of shareholders, to be held on Nov. 30, 2000, to approve the plan to liquidate the firm, which estimates assets available for distribution to shareholders will be approximately $15.8 million, or $1 per share.

The firm's remaining 100 employees would lose their jobs, adding to what industry analysts have said has been more than 22,000 dot-com layoffs in the past several months.

In a company statement, MotherNature.com's board of directors said boiling down the company is the best option at this point. Bear Stearns & Co acted as the outfit's financial advisor.

MotherNature.com's dissolution price is less than Sitestar's September offer of $1.15 per share, which would have valued the company at $18 million. Sitestar abandoned trying to buy the online seller of vitamins and supplements after it refused to negotiate. In August, Sitestar offered 75 cents a share, or about $11.4 million.

The cessation of operation is another blip on the bleak B2C landscape, which analysts have decried for months as being a sector that would have difficulty finding viability. MotherNature.com had tired to keep afloat by turning to B2B plays to rescue the business.

Though very successful for drKoop.com Inc., cutting costs and currying favor with investors, who have seen the MotherNature.com's stock uberdive 96 percent since its IPO last December, was not enough to salvage the damaged ship.

The vitamin and mineral specialist laid off 25 positions, or roughly 20 percent of its work force, in September.