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Ventro shutters business units; stock jumps

    Ventro shares moved up 38 cents, or 20 percent, to $2.25 Wednesday after announcing it will close two of its business units and take a restructuring charge of between $380 million to $410 million.

    Ventro (Nasdaq: VNTR) officials said it will begin laying off 235 employees working for its Chemdex and Promedix units.

    In a prepared release, it said it had looked for alternatives for its Chemdex life sciences marketplace and Promedix specialty medical products marketplace, but its board of directors has determined it is in shareholders' best interest to shut down both in an orderly manner.

    The charges will include estimated costs for job reductions, writedowns of assets, goodwill associated with various acquisitions, costs of canceling certain contracts and charges for other restructuring liabilities.

    Ventro topped analysts' estimates in its third quarter but still lost $35.3 million, or 78 cents a share, on sales of $28.7 million.

    First Call Corp. consensus expects it to lose 82 cents a share in the fourth quarter and $3.22 a share in fiscal 2001.

    The stock moved as high as $243.50 in February before falling to a 52-week low of $1.63 earlier this week.

    Ten of the 14 analysts following the stock maintain either a "buy" or a "strong buy" recommendation.