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Netscape chairman to sell shares

Netscape founder and chairman Jim Clark has filed to sell more than $10 million in Netscape stock.

Netscape Communications' founder and chairman Jim Clark has made several filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, starting in late July, to sell 1.75 million shares of Netscape stock, worth close to $76.5 million, according to Bloomberg.

News of the shares became public only two days after archrival Microsoft made a full-fledged assault on Netscape's browser dominance with the release of its Internet Explorer 3.0, as well as promotional and content deals for the browser.

Netscape had countered by declaring its 3.0 version of Navigator would be out next week, but it's clear the company is beginning to battle competitive pressures.

Company officials said that "conservative" restrictions on when certain shares can be sold affected Clark's filing, which had nothing to do with the Web browser wars. "This is the first time Clark has been released [from the restrictions] even before the IPO" a year ago, said Quincy Smith, Netscape's manager of investor relations and new business. "Employees cannot sell around reporting periods. [Clark] doesn't have quarter upon quarter" to sell holdings.

Smith added that the 250,000-share August 5 SEC filing, which CNET first confirmed, represents only about 1 percent of Clark's total 18.77 million shares, but the total filings are about 9 percent of all his holdings.

A Netscape spokeswoman asserted the filings of Clark and other top executives represent "minimal diversification," and that all those shares may not sell anyway.

Netscape's stock opened Wednesday at 40-1/4, and was down to 37-5/8 in afternoon trading Thursday.

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