Eckoh cuts out small investors to reduce costs

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The Independent Online

More than 7,000 small investors in Eckoh Technologies, the dot.com era wonderstock that used to be called 365 Corporation, are to be thrown off the company's shareholder register in an attempt to cut costs.

The company is expected today to approve a bizarre share reorganisation that will forceably sell all holdings of less than 1,000 shares and cut the number of shareholders by 70 per cent. The company says it will save £50,000 a year by sending out fewer financial reports.

The move brings down the curtain on the company's dot.com past. As 365 Corp, a premium-rate phonelines company turned sports website group, its flotation in December 1999 captured the spirit of the burgeoning internet investment boom.

The initial public offering, which had a large retail element, was 10 times oversubscribed, but the shares have collapsed from their 160p valuation at the time to just 15.25p yesterday as the company shut down or sold websites to concentrate on voice recognition technology.

Eckoh shareholders will be allocated one new share for every 1,000 held, with cash to the value of the remainder. The new share will then immediately be split back into 1,000 shares. Every shareholder will therefore receive a cheque for up to £150, and 7,000 of the smallest investors will be left with no stake in the company.

David Best, the chairman, said: "The board believes that many smaller shareholders have been deterred from selling shares as a result of disproportionate dealing costs."

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