Merger News Sweeps Through Net Sector

Internet stocks were off more than 2 percent in midday trading Monday as investors were digesting merger news from two big sector plays. Techs stocks as a whole were down in part due to a warning from Japanese officials who cautioned that nation’s economy had again soured.

At noon Eastern,’s Internet Stock Index had fallen 25.25, or 2.29 percent, to 1,075.15, the Nasdaq Composite had shed 98.48 to 4,950.14 and the Dow Jones industrial average was off 7.14 to 9,921.68.

CDNow Inc. (CDNW) had tumbled 1 to 8-7/16. CDNow, Time Warner Inc. (TWX) and Sony Corp. Monday called off the pending CDNow, Columbia House merger.

Instead, Time Warner and Sony, co-owners of Columbia House, will invest $51 million in CDNow. Also, CDNow announced it has retained investment firm Allen & Co. to explore strategic opportunities.

iVillage Inc. (IVIL) was unchanged at 23-7/8. The women’s online community over the weekend received an unsolicited bid from Growth Capital Corp. seeking to purchase a 1.4 million-share stake for $22 a share. iVillage is recommending shareholders vote down the offer, which tentatively expires March 21.

Excite@Home (ATHM) had risen 1-5/8 to 30-3/16. The high-speed Internet provider Monday announced @Home 2000, which will combine high-speed access and rich-media content, will launch March 27. The company is hoping it will help lure users away from No. 1 ISP America Online Inc. (AOL) AOL shares were up 2-5/16 to 60-15/16. AOL itself is in the process of merging with Time Warner Inc.

Lycos Inc. (LCOS) was down 3/16 to 73-1/16. The search engine announced plans to take public Lycos Europe NV, a joint venture with Germany’s Bertelsmann AG. The company plans to raise up to $751.3 million in an IPO. Inc. (VOYN) had jumped 1-9/16 to 14-9/16. The Internet provider was purchased by CoreComm Ltd. (COMM) for $540 million in cash and stock. Inc. (DLK) had jumped 10-5/16 to 62-1/4. The company, which sends financial information to wireless devices, Monday announced a 2-for-1 stock split.

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