VerticalNet, BT and ICG form $227 million venture

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VerticalNet Inc. (Nasdaq: VERT) will be the majority shareholder in a new venture with British Telecom and Internet Capital Group that will create a $227 million business-to-business Internet company, to be called VerticalNet Europe.

British Telecom Plc (NYSE: BTY) said Tuesday the joint venture with VerticalNet and Internet Capital Group Inc (Nasdaq: ICGE) will set up Internet business communities across Europe enabling companies to trade information and products. As part of the deal, VerticalNet Europe and BT have also agreed to simultaneously create a British venture, VerticalNet UK Ltd.

BT, which will own 33 percent of the venture, saw shares close at 196 Monday. The company also has a deal with AT&T (NYSE: T) for an Internet Protocol (IP)-based network for global electronic commerce.

Shares in VerticalNet, a B2B company that operates vertical trade communities, closed at 238 1/4 Monday. The stock has had a steep run-up since its wildly successful IPO. A recent Microsoft investment also helped boost the stock.

ICG, a B2B holding company, closed at 119 Monday, down slightly after they spiked in December when Ford announced a $50 million round of funding.

BT said the company would get over $227 million in cash and assets from the three partners; the combined cash contribution of $107 million in financing is one of the largest ever raised for a business-to-business Internet company.

"Within each distinct VerticalNet Web site, businesses can meet, seek and exchange information and buy and sell products and services," BT said. "The sites will contain tailored editorial content including white papers written by key sector personalities, news updates, product information, classified advertisements and job listings."

Reuters contributed to this report.