REPORT BOO.COM CASH BOOST NEAR
Byline: Valerie Seckler
NEW YORK — Is Boo about to score a much-needed infusion of cash?
That’s the rumor circulating here and in London, where Boo.com’s headquarters are located.
The troubled dot-com is reportedly in the final stages of closing a deal for another $30 million in financing that would come from some of its original investors, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Boo officials declined comment Wednesday.
The original investors in Boo.com include Goldman Sachs Group Inc.; J.P. Morgan & Co.; Bain Capital; Europ@web, Bernard Arnault’s Internet investment vehicle, and 21 Invest, controlled by the Benetton family.
Boo has not revealed the level of start-up capital it raised, but estimates range from $125 million to $200 million.
“We looked at Boo.com early this year, but decided not to put any money into it,” said one dot-com executive, who eyed Boo, at that time as a possible investment or takeover target. “We were looking at the potential to boost [customer] traffic and enter Europe.” However, the source concluded that certain assets of Boo were worth more than the company as a whole.
According to the source, Boo has used $140 million of the money pumped into it by its original investors, which was based on a valuation of the company at between $300 million and $400 million. In February, the source said, Boo raised another $30 million, based on a valuation that put the company’s worth at about $175 million.
“Two weeks ago,” the dot-com executive added, “they had an offer on the table for $50 million, based on a $75 million valuation of the company.”
Executives of Boo.com, as noted, declined to comment on recent published reports that the troubled company had been put up for sale by its increasingly restless investors.
The key question facing Boo, said Internet observers, is whether new funds have been made available by Boo’s original investors to keep the company alive long enough to sell it, or whether they’ve retreated from their apparent attempt to find a purchaser.
In February, as reported in these columns, rumors circulated that Boo was seeking an infusion of funds and scouting for new investors. But at that time, Tobin Ireland, Boo’s chief retail officer, said, “We have the money we need.”
According to one Internet source, “Boo burned through tens of millions of dollars” last year while promoting the brand, procuring merchandise for its five aborted launches and addressing the technical difficulties that curtailed those attempts.