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Lawsuit could threaten iVillage IPO

A former employee of the online community for women is trying to block the company's imminent initial public offering, which could raise up to $46 million.

A former employee of iVillage, the online community for women, is trying to block the company's imminent initial public offering, which could raise up to $46 million.

In a lawsuit before a federal judge in Nashville, the former employee, Todd L. Kenner, is accusing iVillage of promising him between $1 million and $2 million in stock options if he would move to New York to take a senior position at the company. A little over a month after he moved his family from Tennessee, Kenner alleges, iVillage fired him.

"This is a classic case of a company and its executives inducing a change his place of employment by means of false pretenses and fraudulent and deceptive representations," the lawsuit alleges.

The suit, which accuses iVillage of demoting other male executives, seeks to prevent the company from moving forward with its IPO until Kenner receives the 100,000 stock options he allegedly was promised. It was unclear exactly when iVillage, which is backed by NBC, would go public. In a document filed on January 5 with the Securities and Exchange Commission, iVillage said it hoped to commence the offering "as soon as practical."

iVillage spokesman Jason Stell said Kenner's suit was "absurd and frivolous" but declined further comment, citing a "quiet period" imposed on companies that are close to going public. An attorney for Kenner said no hearings were scheduled in the case, but declined further comment.

Kenner's lawsuit for breach of contract accuses iVillage chief executive Candice Carpenter of promising Kenner 100,000 shares in stock options, $135,000 in annual salary, and semiannual bonuses of 40 percent of his annual pay if he would move his family from Tennessee to the New York area to become the company's chief financial officer. According to his complaint, Kenner made the move in late August 1998 and was fired in a company reorganization in October.