Brink resigns as World Online investors sue

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The Independent Online

Nina Brink, the embattled chairwoman of World Online International, resigned "with immediate effect" yesterday, just 28 days after the company's flotation on the Amsterdam stock exchange.

Hours earlier, the Dutch Shareholders' Association had filed for damages against the company and its advisors, Goldman Sachs and AMB Amro, citing a misleading IPO prospectus, a lack of transparency and unclear statements at the time of the offering.

The allegations centre around sharedealings by Ms Brink, who sold two-thirds of her shares in the pan-European Net service provider at the end of last year. Most investors seemed not to have noticed this admission in the prospectus. It was only on 3 April, more than two weeks after flotation, that Ms Brink revealed she had sold at just $6.04 a share, compared with the IPO price of 43 euros, more than six times higher.

The Spong and Hammerstein law firm in Amsterdam yesterday said Ms Brink's sale price was "totally disproportionate with the price that shares were sold to new shareholders ... Our clients would never have bought shares in World Online, at least not at the list price, if all this had been known." The ill-fated IPO was over-subscribed 21 times.

In the Netherlands, a spokeswoman for Ms Brink said the World Online founder had been considering resignation "for some time" and it was a "coincidence" that it had come on the day of the legal action. Ms Brink will stay on as an adviser. World Online shares gained 2.7 per cent to finish the day at 18.85 euros.