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VerticalNet names new division president

The company's appointment of Patricia Hume as president of its core business unit, VerticalNet Markets, is part of its restructuring into three business units.

VerticalNet today named Patricia Hume as president of its core business unit, VerticalNet Markets.

Hume's appointment is part of the company's earlier restructuring announcement, in which it created three business units to handle its business-to-business online exchanges operation.

Investors applauded the news, sending the company's shares up $2.38, or about 28 percent, to close at $10.94. VerticalNet, however, is still sharply down from its 52-week high of $148.37.

"Pat is going to work on putting a path toward profitability. This is a business unit that's close to being profitable," said Joe Galli, VerticalNet chief executive. "Secondly, she is going to develop a product development plan for the coming months to take our business to the next level."

VerticalNet Markets serves 57 industries, with sites such as Food Online and Solid Waste.com. The business unit also provides suppliers and buyers with industry-related content and resources.

"I expect to see significant progress in the next six months," Galli said. "We'll see sweeping progress like product functionality, progress in traffic, easy navigation of the sites, and content and community features."

VerticalNet expects to be profitable next year. It generated third-quarter revenues of $73 million--up substantially from $5.2 million a year ago. Its losses widened, however, to $76 million in the quarter from $26 million a year earlier.

VerticalNet not only faces direct competition from Ariba and CommerceOne, but also from a growing number of customers that are banding together to create their own industry exchanges.

"This restructuring will let us compete better. We'll be able to improve the bundling of our services," said Galli, adding, "We have all the talent now in place and now our plan is to execute."