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Digitas makes modest debut

Digitas shares closed up 5 1/2, or 23 percent, to 29 1/2 Tuesday in its initial public offering.

The Internet consulting firm priced 9.3 million shares at $24, well above their projected range of $18-$20 per share.

While Digitas (Nasdaq: DTAS) will get the proceeds from 6.2 million shares, current stockholders will sell the remaining 3.1 million shares, according to the company's SEC filings. Hellman & Friedman Capital Partners III LP is the primary stockholder selling in the IPO, offering approximately 2.8 million shares.

Digitas, which provides integrated, Internet-based technological and marketing services will compete in a crowded field with web consulting firms such as (Nasdaq: ACOM), Diamond Technology Partners (Nasdaq: DTPI) , iXL Enterprises (Nasdaq: IIXL), Proxicom (Nasdaq: PXCM), Razorfish (Nasdaq: RAZF), Scient (Nasdaq: SCNT), USWeb/CKS (Nasdaq: USWB) and US Interactive (Nasdaq: USIT). It also competes with large systems integrators, such as Andersen Consulting.

The deal, underwritten by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, will leave about 56.9 million shares of common stock outstanding in the company.

For the year ended December 31, Digitas' net loss narrowed to $37.6 million on revenue of $187 million, compared to a loss of $44.8 million on revenue of $122.3 million in 1998.

Like most Internet services companies, Digitas said it depends on a limited number of large clients. For 1999, its 3 largest clients, American Express, AT&T (NYSE: T) and General Motors, accounted for about 62 percent of revenue, with General Motors, accounting for almost 23 percent of the total.