Three-Way $227 Million Venture Formed for VerticalNet Europe

BT, VerticalNet and Internet Capital Group Tuesday inked a $227 million deal for the alliance to develop a business-to-business trading community for the European market.


The VerticalNet Europe venture, in which VerticalNet will be the majority shareholder in the joint venture, will be backed by a cash component of $107 million and another $120 million in assets. The group is calling the investment the largest ever for
an Internet-based business-to-business company.


One of the first steps in forming the new European venture
is the creation of VerticalNet UK Ltd., which will be co-branded
by BT and VerticalNet. It will run a group of vertical Web sites
where businesses can exchange information and ideas, and
market their products and services.


“With VerticalNet Europe we are entering into the Internet’s
next hypergrowth market,” said VerticalNet President and
Chief Executive Officer Mark Walsh.


Walsh said that partnering with BT and Internet Capital
would allow rapid exploitation of the market, a point
confirmed by the immediate launch of the UK community.


VerticalNet currently owns and operates 55 industry-specific Web
sites which it calls “vertical trade communities.” They range
from Plant Automation.com, to Photonics Online, PublicWorks.com,
and Solid Waste.com.


The acting CEO of VerticalNet Europe will be Mario Shaffer,
who up till now has been VerticalNet’s vice president of business
development and international operations.


“We are actively seeking employees, partners, and acquisitions
for the joint venture to enable us to expand quickly,” said
Shaffer.


Speaking on hehalf of BT, Ben Andradi, managing director of BT
Internet and e-usiness, said that the formation of VerticalNet
Europe would enable thousands of businesses throughout Europe
to reap immediate e-business benefits.


“The sheer variety of information, communication and trading
opportunities will make the concept of trading communities virtually
impossible to ignore,” said Andradi.


According to BT, experts predict that the global business-to-business
e-commerce market will be worth $1.3 trillion by 2002. Even to
BT, currently capitalized at £80 billion ($130 billion), that
is a prize worth pursuing.

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