Local Internet venture seeks $53 million

Financial services firm eChapman.com floats 3.3 million shares

Stock offerings

November 17, 1999|By Bill Atkinson | Bill Atkinson,SUN STAFF

Nathan A. Chapman Jr., chairman and president of the Baltimore brokerage bearing his name, plans to raise as much as $53 million as he takes his new Internet financial services company public. The company, called eChapman.com, is offering 3.33 million shares at prices ranging from $14 to $16 each, according to a prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The offering began Monday and should close in January. Shares will be traded on the Nasdaq stock market under the symbol ECMN.

Chapman founded several companies, including Chapman Holdings Inc., the parent; Chapman Capital Management Holdings, an investment advisory firm; Chapman Co., a brokerage and investment banking firm; and Chapman Insurance Holdings Inc.

Along with the offering, he plans to fold them all into eChapman.com to create a one-stop financial firm. The offering will be managed by the Chapman Co.

Chapman declined to comment, noting the SEC's "quiet period" rule.

He will be president and the majority stockholder of eChapman.com with 52.2 percent of the outstanding common stock, according to the prospectus.

`Exploratory stages'

eChapman.com is being started to take "advantage of the unique opportunities presented by the growth of the Internet," the company said in the prospectus.

The company plans to offer brokerage services, mutual funds and insurance products online.

It is also in the "exploratory stages" of starting an Internet bank, which the company said would "round out our financial product lines and make eChapman.com a complete, one-stop financial services company."

But eChapman.com plans to go far beyond financial services by offering a Web site that has a variety of lifestyle, educational and cultural content to appeal to African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and women.

The company expects to offer online trading in next year's first quarter, and the lifestyle, educational and cultural content around June.

Chapman took Chapman Holdings public in February 1998, netting $6.8 million. Six months later, he took Chapman Capital Management Holdings Inc. public, raising $5.5 million.

While the companies have grown, they have been modestly profitable at best.

Loss last year

Combined, the companies would have reported revenue of $6 million last year and a loss of $1.6 million, largely because of rapid growth, according to the prospectus.

eChapman.com will have an expanded board. Nominees include Kweisi Mfume, president and chief executive of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Raymond Haysbert, retired president and chairman of Parks Sausage Co; Mark Jefferson, founder of Funburst Media LLC; and Adolph Washington, vice president of field promotions at Capitol Records in Hollywood, Calif.

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