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Excite@Home acquires iMall, inks commerce pact

Excite@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM) said Tuesday it plans to acquire e-commerce provider iMALL, Inc. (Nasdaq: IMAL) in a stock swap valued near $425 million.

Shares in Excite@Home were down 1 1/2 to 50 in initial trading. The Redwood City California-based company boasts "All Band, All Device, All the Time," as well as multimedia content and services, via cable lines. First Data shares were down 11/16 to 48 9/16, and iMALL was down 1 9/32 to 21 1/32.

Excite@Home will issue about 8.3 million shares of Excite@Home stock, worth $425 million, and assume iMALL's outstanding options and warrants. Each shareholder of iMALL will receive 0.46 shares of Excite@Home series A common stock for each share of iMALL common stock.

Excite @Home also announced that it and e-commerce software maker First Data Corporation (NYSE: FDC) have also agreed to a marketing deal. First Data Merchant Services, of which First Data Corp is a subsidiary, already has an 11 percent ownership stake in iMALL.

Under the agreement, Excite@Home can win more merchants for its site by offering transaction capabilities. Merchants working with iMALL and First Data will gain exposure to Excite's 22 million unique visitors each month, according to a company release.

The three-way relationship is intended to leverage First Data's electronic commerce payment software, and iMALL's commerce capabilities, which make it easy for merchants to set up an online storefront on Excite@Home's site. The new arrangement will allow merchants to put up electronic storefronts within hours rather than weeks since all back-end banking services are already integrated.

George Bell, president of Excite@Home said he believes the deal will make his company the leader in a huge trend in American commerce. "The combined solution gives us critical mass to bring together online buyers and sellers with new services for our business-to-business efforts -- benefiting our @Work division, and business-to-consumer transactions,'' said Bell in a company statement.

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 1999. iMALL will operate as an independent subsidiary of Excite@Home , as part of its @Work division.

Excite@Home reports earnings next week. Wall Street is looking for a loss of 2 cents a share.