VerticalNet sells electronics exchange

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Horsham, Pa.--With its stock price taking it on the chin, VerticalNet Inc. has agreed to sell its NECX electronics exchange to Converge Inc., a 15-member consortium of high-tech manufacturers and distributors formerly known as eHitex. The exact terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but VerticalNet will receive a 19.9% equity stake in Converge, becoming its largest shareholder. VerticalNet, which operates online b-to-b communities, purchased the three companies that form Peabody, Mass.-based NECX last year in stock deals amounting to $300 million. Those stocks have lost nearly a third of their value while VerticalNet's stock has tumbled from $148.38 in March to a 52-week low of $5.31 on Tuesday. VerticalNet said the sale offers VerticalNet Solutions an opportunity to sell more software to the high-tech industry that Converge represents.
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