E.Biscom IPO raises highest expectations in Italy

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ROME--E.Biscom, the Italian company that launched in June, holds its Initial Public Offering on March 30. It hopes to follow in the footsteps of Italy's largest Internet company, Tiscali, which hasseen its shares soar from $44 a share to $970 since it went public last October.

Unlike Tiscali, which has used its mile-high stock price to fund foreign acquisitions as part of a plan to create what it says will be the first true pan-European Internet firm, e.Biscom is looking to integrate itself deeper in the Italian market.

The company is focusing its efforts in northern Italy, the most prosperous part of the country, where it has a stake in the local telephone market, owns subsidiaries that market video and data conferencing services and is laying high-density fiber-optic networks.

It also plans to bid on one of five new cellular licenses set to be auctioned by the Italian government later this year, and plans to integrate software that will allow electronic communication over its mobile units.

The company's main focus, however, is the Internet. "e.Biscom is an Internet company that is diversified, not a diversified company that is trying out the Internet," says founder Silvio Scaglia.

One of the reasons e.Biscom is attracting so much attention is the track record of Mr. Scaglia, who helped start-up cellular company Omnitel attract 10.4 million customers and a market capitalization of $3.6 billion in three years.

Copyright March 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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