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Net consulting firm postpones IPO

Rocky market conditions have prompted Zefer, a company that helps businesses with Web services, strategy, marketing and design, to hold off on its initial public offering.

Rocky market conditions have prompted Internet consulting firm Zefer to postpone its initial public offering, according to its underwriter.

The Boston-based firm, which helps companies with Web services, including strategy, business consulting, marketing and design, had been prepping to go public today despite jittery market conditions.

Zefer, which filed for its IPO in early January, recently increased its offering to 4.5 million shares from 4 million, with an asking price of $11 to $13 a share. The company is aiming to raise about $54 million.

CS First Boston, which is managing the offering with First Union Securities and Robertson Stephens, did not disclose a future IPO date.

The services firm is stepping into a crowded ring of players, including iXL Enterprises, Scient, Viant, Razorfish, AppNet and Proxicom, which have done fairly well since going public, grabbing Wall Street's attention as demand for their services climbs.

But, U.S. markets this week have been hit hard, with technology stocks shedding the most value. Earlier this week, the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index recorded its sixth-biggest decline, losing 25 percent of its value since it reached a record high one month ago.

The firm said it plans Tune in to CNET TV's IPO Forecast to use the funds raised in the IPO to repay debt, for working capital and for other corporate purposes, including possible acquisitions. Zefer, which won $100 million in a second round of funding last May, has swallowed up a number of smaller firms within the past year, aiming to quickly beef up its core offerings and employee base.

Founded last year by former McKinsey & Co. colleagues Anthony Tjan and Kaming Ng, the company is being led by Bill Siebel, who was part of the original management team at systems integrator Cambridge Technology Partners.

Zefer, which has about 480 employees and offices in Boston, Chicago, New York, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and London, is planning to trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol "ZEFR."