techTrader:, Baltimore in Nasdaq floats

To raise funds, two European companies go to the market where all the hype started -- the US

Two European Internet groups brought out floatation plans Wednesday -- but the London Stock Exchange won't have anything to do with them., founded by the businessman who started the Flightbookers chain of travel agents 16 years ago, announced plans for a £150m stock market floatation on the US' Nasdaq exchange, while Internet security designer Baltimore Technologies raised £102m through a Nasdaq offering.

Some European technology companies choose to float on the Nasdaq to emphasise their borderless appeal and to better target the US market. In the case of, the company is also seeking a second listing on Germany's high-tech exchange, the Neuermarkt. The UK plans to launch its own tech exchange, techMARK, next month.

Baltimore has had a listing on London's alternative market (AIM) since it reversed into Zergo; using several markets to raise capital is relatively common for international high-tech companies., which provides airline and hotel bookings online in Europe, filed on Wednesday with US regulators to raise $58.7m (£35m) in an initial public offering. After the offering, 17 million shares will be outstanding, putting's market value at $238m (about £150m), based on the mid-range $14 per share price.

Dinesh Dhamija has headed the company as chief executive officer since June 1999. Dhamija is also chairman of Flightbookers, which he founded, and which is a partner of in Britain. Dhamija's own stake in ebookers could be valued at about £100m after the floatation.

London-based ebookers plans to sell 3.4 million American Depositary Shares in a projected price range of $13 to $15, according to the preliminary prospectus filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The company said it plans to put the proceeds toward advertising and brand development, acquisition of European travel agencies and purchase of additional computers. had about $5.7m in revenue during the first six months of 1999 and $2.2m in net losses. The company has applied to list its shares on Nasdaq under the symbol "EBKR". The lead underwriter for the IPO is J.P Morgan Securities Ltd and has been allotted 510,000 shares in the event of heavy demand.

Baltimore shares climbed after its American Depositary Receipt (ADR) offering Wednesday as investors were attracted to its Internet security products and services as more companies engage in e-commerce.

The Dublin-based firm's shares were last up about 25 percent at 31-9/16 on the Nasdaq, with 1.3 million shares trading hands. It had raised $170m through the offering, after pricing 6.858 million shares at $24.7875.

Baltimore's products and services enable businesses to conduct secure communications and transactions over computer networks and Internet. The Dublin-based company's issues benefited from projections the demand for similar products and services will grow in coming years. Research firm IDC projects that spending on Internet infrastructure appliances will grow to $27.1bn by 2002 from $4bn in 1997.

The company posted total revenues of $15.5m and a loss of $25.2m for the six months ended 30 June. Its competitors includes VeriSign, Microsoft and CyberTrust.

Baltimore plans to use the proceeds from the offering, which was 10 times oversubscribed, for acquisitions in new and emerging technologies.

Matthew Broersma contributed to this report.

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