World Online raided in IPO insider trading probe

Holland-based ISP World Online swathed in controversy and rumours

Dutch-based Internet service provider (ISP) World Online said Monday its headquarters had been raided in connection with allegations of insider trading around the company's disastrous initial public offering in March.

World Online issued a statement saying the prosecutor of the Justice Department in Amsterdam began the investigation earlier Monday.

The company said it is cooperating with investigators who are still at the company's headquarters in Rotterdam.

Prosecutors also issued a statement adding that the investigation was a criminal one, and confirming that World Online was cooperating, but saying no further details would be released until the investigation was concluded.

Founder and former chairwoman Nina Brink declined to confirm or deny that she was a target of the investigation but said, through a spokeswoman, that her house had not been raided.

Brink has been at the centre of the controversy over the IPO, after World Online shares, floated at 43 euros on 17 March, nosedived after it emerged that she had sold most of her stake for six euros per share prior to the IPO.

Italian telecoms and Internet company Tiscali launched a 5.3bn euro takeover of World Online on 7 November.

Tiscali had no immediate comment on the raid and gave no indications as to whether the investigation might create obstacles for its takeover of World Online.

World Online shares, which were trading about six percent lower before the announcement, moved seven percent lower to 12.45 euros by 2.40pm GMT. The shares hit a low of 9.50 euros in October.

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