Digitas up modestly in first-day trading

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Internet shop Digitas went public March 14, selling 9.3 million shares at $24 a share and closing at $29.50, a comparatively modest uptick from the IPO price. The closing gave Digitas a market capitalization of $1.68 billion, putting it in the ranks of the larger i-shops.

Boston-based Digitas last year lost $37.6 million on revenue of $187 million. The business opened in 1980 as a direct-marketing shop, Bronner Schlosberg Humphrey; founder Michael Bronner, 40, is the largest individual shareholder with a 14% stake. Chairman David Kenny, 38, owns 11%; President Kathleen Biro, 47, owns 3.5%. The dominant shareholder is investment firm Hellman & Friedman.

Digitas had 38 customers last year but is heavily reliant on a handful. General Motors Corp., the agency's largest customer, accounted for 23% of revenue last year; American Express Co., a customer since 1981, contributed 22% of revenue; AT&T Corp. was third at 17%. Back in 1997, AT&T generated 43% of the shop's revenue.

Other customers include American Electric Power, Bausch & Lomb, Charles Schwab & Co., Harcourt, Johnson & Johnson, L.L. Bean and Neiman Marcus.

Digitas has offices in Boston, New York, San Francisco, Salt Lake City and London. It has 1,200 U.S. employees and 40 employees in Europe.

Copyright March 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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