Fast Breaks Newsfront: March 26, 2001

IPO Discontent

IPO Discontent

It may be spring, but the cold, hard winter of IPO discontent continues unabated. Last week, Lucent Technologies optical components spin-off Agere Systems delayed its IPO and slashed its price range. Seven smaller deals, worth about $860 million, were also withdrawn. So far this year, 64 offerings, worth an estimated $7 billion, have been withdrawn.

Patents Hit Road Blocks

Bureaucratic roadblocks appear to be affecting the number of business-method patents being approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Just 36 percent of such patents were granted for the quarter ended Dec. 31, down from 56 percent in the first quarter of 2000.

3Com Dumps Devices

Facing a bleak sales forecast and growing losses, 3Com last week said it will take steps to cut $1 billion in cost from its operations by midyear — including shutting down its year-old Internet appliance division. Sales of those devices totaled just $9 million to date, far short of 3Coms expectations.

Crack in the Bell

Pennsylvania officials declined to break up regional Bell Verizon Communications operations in the state, but demanded last week that the company functionally separate its wholesale and retail businesses there. Verizon must also set up a separate subsidiary for advanced data operations.

Financial Messaging

Reuters, Microsoft and 25 financial institutions are developing Messaging, a secure instant messaging service and directory for the financial services industry. Messaging will use Microsofts Session Initiation Protocol software and service communications platform.

DSL in China

China Telecom has entered a deal to purchase from Alcatel about half of the equipment it needs to deploy DSL service nationwide. Analysts said the deal positions China Telecom to control mass rollout of the technology in a fast-growing market. A UBS Warburg report suggested that China will add about 25 million DSL subscribers by 2005.