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Netscape selling @Home shares

The company and CEO Jim Barksdale file to sell as much as half of their stakes in the cable Net access provider.

Netscape Communications and its chief executive, James Barksdale, have filed to sell as much as half of their stakes in high-speed cable Net access provider @Home.

Netscape is planning to sell 200,000 of its shares, according to a Securities Exchange Commission filing. That's 50 percent of the company's stake, according to @Home's proxy filing from last week.

Meanwhile, @Home director and Netscape CEO Barksdale plans to sell 50,713 shares. That's about 43 percent of his @Home stake, the proxy stated.

"Netscape is selling for internal reasons. We remain extremely confident in [@Home]. They are a great partner and we're also a customer of theirs," said a Netscape spokeswoman.

Barksdale was unavailable to comment on his proposed sale. @Home had no comment on the transactions, said company spokesman Matt Wolffom.

Netscape is one of the original strategic partners of @Home.

The pending sale will bring Netscape more than $6.7 million and Barksdale more than $1.7 million, based on @Home's closing share price today of 33.6250--nearly 5 points shy of a 52-week high. Netscape is selling its shares to add to its cash reserves, one source said.

Last spring, @Home sold preferred stock to its some of its partners and to board member Barksdale, according to the proxy. The shares converted into common stock last summer when the company went public.

The investment has proven profitable. Netscape invested $4 million for its 400,000-share stake in @Home, which is valued at $13.4 million based on today's closing price. Barksdale's $1 million investment for 117,715 shares is valued at nearly $4 million.

Back in February, shares of @Home had a steep run-up from the low-20s to the mid-30s, as investors cheered @Home's technology deal to provide email accounts on all of Tele-Communication Incorporated's next generation of advanced digital set-top boxes.

The stock has retreated since then, however.

In addition to Netscape and Barksdale, some partners with venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield, & Byers filed to sell 135,000 shares last month. KPCB was one of the venture capital firms that initially funded @Home. The three partners--Vinod Khosla, Doug Mackenzie, and Joe Lacob--sold some of their stakes after a recent KPCB distribution of the cable company's stock to its partners.

At the time, insider trading analysts said the sales by the VCs should not be construed as any insight into the company's future performance. Just this week, @Home said it had signed up 100,000 subscribers, a significant milestone.