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said Japanese trading company


agreed to purchase $30 million of VerticalNet common stock through a private placement.

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Shares of VerticalNet, a provider of business-to-business online commerce centers, were recently trading at $29.50, after gaining 5.8%, or $1.63, in



The common shares purchased by Sumitomo will remain unregistered for at least one year. The companies also agreed to cooperate on a variety of joint initiatives, which may include the creation of VerticalNet Exchange Japan. In addition, Sumitomo may become an equity partner in VerticalNet's international dealings and may license or distribute technology.

Sumitomo and VerticalNet already have a joint venture called NECX Asia.

The latest transaction will close following regulatory approval.