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Tractors meet PCs in merger

Marinex Multimedia's recent marriage with farm equipment dealer Texas Equipment is a quintessential example of a merger where everybody wins.

Marinex Multimedia's recent marriage with a farm equipment company is a quintessential example of a merging of partners from two very different worlds.

Marinex, which trades on the Nasdaq market under MRNX, today said that it's changing its name and ticker symbol to reflect its recent acquisition: Texas Equipment, a John Deere farm equipment dealership in Seminole, Texas.

"We looked at Internet, software, and CD-ROM companies and did not want to merge with another money-losing Internet business," said Jonathan Braun, Marinex cofounder and copresident. "This was not about art, religion, or politics. It was about a responsibility to our shareholders. We're merging with a strong company."

Marinex, a three-year-old start-up that has yet to post a profit, was looking for a financially strong company to help spur growth and appease shareholders when its attorney teamed the CD-ROM and Web page content provider with Texas Equipment.

Texas Equipment, a 24-year-old company with revenues of more than $25 million and profits reaching upwards of $2 million this year, was considering going public at the time the introduction was made. The company saw the merger as a way to quickly become a public company, according to Paul Condit, its president.

Under the deal, Marinex purchased Texas Equipment in a $70 million stock deal. With the 16.85 million shares that Texas Equipment received, the equipment maker now holds a 68.5 percent stake in Marinex.

Marinex will change its name to Texas Equipment and its ticker to TEXQ. Condit will serve was chief executive of the holding company, which will operate two subsidiaries: Texas Equipment for farm equipment dealerships, and Marinex Multimedia for its CD-ROM and Internet business. Braun said he will remain copresident of the subsidiary.

"I don't know a lot about the computer business. It's another world, and I'm depending on [Braun]," said Texas Equipment's Condit, who notes he's not an Internet "surfer dude" and has no plans to give up the tractor for the computer.

And what did Marinex shareholders think of this computer-farm marriage? "They like the idea, and so does Wall Street," Braun said.

Condit said the company plans to launch a $10 million offering in December, with most of that money to be used for expanding the farm dealership business. He said it hasn't been determined how much of the proceeds will be used to expand Marinex's core business.