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EUniverse Mulls New L90 Deal While SEC Probe Pushes Ahead

EUniverse Mulls New L90 Deal While SEC Probe Pushes Ahead


Staff Reporter

EUniverse Inc., which earlier this month withdrew its $55 million offer for troubled online marketer L90 Inc., remains interested in the company’s assets and may yet make a play for several pieces.

“I think, conceivably, we would still, at the right time, under the right circumstances be interested,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Brad Greenspan, although he would not comment on the timing of any moves.

EUniverse, an operator of entertainment Web sites, called off the anticipated $55 million deal on March 11, after the Securities and Exchange Commission subpoenaed L90 officials and a board member. L90 officials have said that the company has been connected to Homestore.com’s financial difficulties and is under investigation for certain barter transactions and how those may have affected its revenue reporting. The companies are trying to reach a settlement through which eUniverse will be compensated for pre-merger costs.

Mike Niehuser, an analyst at RedChip Review, said eUniverse is interested primarily in L90’s sales force, Internet lottery site webMillion.com, and the direct marketing operations of L90 Direct.

“They can still possibly get everything they wanted from the transaction and maybe at a better price,” Niehuser said.

While Greenspan has expressed continuing interest in L90, he said no moves would be made until the SEC investigation shakes out.

“You don’t want to be on the front page of a newspaper because the SEC is doing an investigation of your subsidiaries,” said Victoria Santaella, head of research at vFinance Inc.

EUniverse shares reached a 52-week high of $8.50 on Jan. 24, but backed off to $4.14 in early March, after the L90 woes came to light. Since pulling out of the deal, its shares have regained some of the lost ground, closing at $6.15 on March 19.

With L90 off the table for the time being Greenspan said, “I think, potentially, it just refocuses us on growing some other areas we’d have put on the back burner.”

Among those pursuits are the recent agreement with Bonus Books Inc. to compile selections from an eUniverse e-mail newsletter called “Quick Inspirations.” Greenspan said the company will start offering more impulse shopping opportunities at eUniverse.com and the company’s other properties.

“We’re going to be opportunistic,” he said. “Much like Home Shopping Network and QVC are successful, every indication is our audience is ripe for impulse purchasing.”

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