Priceline sets IPO price range

The travel-auction site plans to sell 10 million shares for between $7 and $9 in its initial public offering.

Priceline.com the Web site that lets consumers offer bids for airline tickets and hotel rooms, said it expects to sell 10 million common shares for $7 to $9 apiece in its initial public offering.

The Stamford, Connecticut-based travel auction site estimated that it would raise about $72.3 million after expenses if shares sell for $8, at the middle of the expected price range. If underwriters exercise an option to buy another 1.5 million shares to meet investor demand, Priceline.com would raise $84.3 million at $8 per share, the company said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

"We anticipate that the net proceeds of this offering, together with our available funds, will be sufficient to satisfy our anticipated needs for working capital, capital expenditures and business expansion for at least the next three years,'' the filing says. The company also said in the filing that it may issue more stock in the next three years, a decision that will depend on competitive pressures or on whether rapid expansion is called for. The company also said it could decide to offer more stock once the three years are up.

Priceline.com expects to have 142.3 million common shares outstanding after the offering. At the $8 estimated price, that would give the company an implied market value of $1.1 billion.

Priceline.com says it's business is based on a "simple and compelling consumer proposition'' that if consumers name the price they're willing to pay for goods or services, it can look for a seller willing to accept the consumer's offer. The company sometimes supplements a customer's bid with its own cash to make the sale if an offer doesn't reach an airline's minimum price.

The company started by taking online offers for airline tickets. The company forwards the offers to airlines, which can decide whether they want to accept. Priceline.com also offers hotel rooms in many cities, and is expanding to include other products and services, such as cars and home mortgages.

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