Digital eyes IPO for Alta Vista

Digital is considering taking its new AltaVista Internet Software subsidiary public.

Following the footsteps of other Web search sites, Digital is considering taking its new AltaVista Internet Software subsidiary public, company officials have announced.

AltaVista, a line of Internet search and other software products based on Digital's popular Web search site with the same name, was formed into a subsidiary on June 28, says Ed Canty, a DEC spokesman.

If Digital goes ahead with an initial public offering, it would offer as much as 20% of the company's shares for sale, Canty says. The offering depends on securing necessary approvals and on market conditions, he says. The IPO would give AltaVista more flexibility in the fast-paced Internet software business, while still being able to use Digital's worldwide sales organisation, Canty says.

"It would have a special relationship with Digital as its parent company, but it ... would get revenue as an Internet software vendor playing by Internet software vendor rules," Canty says.

In April, search service competitors Yahoo, Excite and Lycos went public; another search service, Infoseek, went public in June. Excitement around Internet stocks has cooled, however. Yahoo is trading above its US$13 per share offering price, closing yesterday at just over US$20 a share, but the others are trading at below their offering price.

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