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Commerx files for IPO in booming B2B sector

Internet marketplace maker Commerx files for an initial public offering, the latest in a series of offerings in the booming business-to-business sector.

Internet marketplace maker Commerx today filed for an initial public offering, the latest in a series of offerings in the booming business-to-business sector.

The Chicago-based company creates business-to-business marketplaces that links buyers and sellers in the industrial goods market on the Internet. The company's first marketplace, PlasticNet.com, is dedicated to the market for plastics and related services.

The company plans to divulge how many shares it plans to offer and at what price in a later filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

With its public offering, Commerx could follow a string of business services firms that have gone public in recent months with great success. Commerce One, another business-to-business firm, has watched its stock rise 2,543 percent since its IPO July 1. Rival Ariba has soared 1,447 percent since it sold shares on June 23, while VerticalNet has jumped 3,269 percent since its IPO Feb. 11.

Part of that success can be attributed to the growing interest in business-to-business companies and the services they offer. The worldwide market for online business services is expected to increase from $145 billion in 1999 to $7.29 trillion in 2004, market research firm Gartner Group said in a report released yesterday.

In 2004, the report predicts, the niche will represent about 7 percent of the forecasted $105 trillion market for all global sales transactions.

Commerx will be entering a highly competitive market. VerticalNet and Chemdex also offer online services in the wider industrial commerce space.

Chemdex sells chemicals, enzymes and equipment from about 110 suppliers on its Web site. Buyers of its 225,000 products range from universities to pharmaceutical companies.

VerticalNet's marketplaces range from Property and Casualty Online for the insurance industry to Meat and Poultry Online for the foods industry.

Commerx?s PlasticsNet provides a buyer-focused marketplace that offers plastics products and services online. The company currently offers over 30,000 plastics products from approximately 50 suppliers.