NetSuite IPO closes, generates $185 million

NetSuite's initial public offering raised US$185.4 million, close to double the amount the company originally forecast the IPO would generate and a positive sign for the market of hosted, software-as-a-service business applications.

NetSuite, a provider of hosted applications for small and midsize organizations, sold 6.2 million shares of common stock at $26 per share via auction and its underwriters acted on their option to buy an additional 930,000 shares, the company said Wednesday.

The $185.4 million is a gross amount from which underwriting discounts and expenses will be deducted, the company said. Moreover, 365,000 of the shares bought by the underwriters were owned by stockholders like NetSuite's CEO and chief technology officer,

so the proceeds from those shares -- about $9.5 million -- won't go to the company.

In the final IPO prospectus, NetSuite had estimated that, if the underwriters exercised their option in full -- as they did -- NetSuite's IPO net proceeds would be approximately $161.9 million.

NetSuite initially set a range of $13 to $16 per share for its IPO but subsequently raised it and eventually set the price at $26 per share on Thursday of last week, the day when the stock started trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the "N" symbol.

At midmorning Wednesday, the stock was trading at $34.85, down about 10 percent from its previous close. Its highest point so far is $45.98.

Incorporated in 1998, NetSuite sells ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM (customer relationship management) and e-commerce applications on a hosted, subscription-based model, in which customers access the software via the Internet and don't need to install it on their premises.

This software-as-a-service model, championed by companies like Salesforce.com and Google, is considered a significant threat to the traditional approach from vendors like Microsoft of having customers implement software on their own PCs and servers.

As of Sept. 30 of this year, NetSuite had over 5,400 active customers, according to its IPO prospectus. In 2006, the company had revenue of $67.2 million and a net loss of $35.7 million. In the first nine months of this year, it generated $76.8 million in revenue and racked up a net loss of $20.6 million, according to the prospectus.

NetSuite plans to use its IPO proceeds to pay off an $8 million balance on a line of credit with Tako Ventures, an entity controlled by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, and to possibly make acquisitions.

As of Nov. 30, Ellison controlled about 60 percent of NetSuite's outstanding stock -- some 31.9 million shares -- but Ellison transferred those shares into a holding company, NetSuite Restricted Holdings. The move is meant to "effectively eliminate" Ellison's voting power and avoid potential conflicts of interests, according to the prospectus.

NetSuite also plans to devote between $10 million and $15 million for capital expenditures, including the purchase of property, plant and equipment and the addition of a second data-center facility, and for working capital and other general purposes, including its international expansion. NetSuite currently provides its hosted applications out of a single data center, which the company admits in the prospectus is a risk that could harm its business should there be any service disruption at this facility.

NetSuite also said it may use a portion of the net proceeds to acquire other businesses, products or technologies, although it doesn't have any agreements or commitments for any specific acquisitions at the moment. The money it doesn't spend will be invested in short-term, interest-bearing investment grade securities.

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