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Monday, 15 May, 2000, 05:21 GMT 06:21 UK
World Online float hearing
World Online's website
A court is to hear allegations on Monday that internet company World Online and its bank ABN Amro broke Dutch financial rules when it floated on the Amsterdam stock market.

Dutch lawyer Bob van der Goen is bringing the case on behalf of 1,000 people who bought shares when the company floated in March.

In the court hearing he will allege that World Online and its bank ABN Amro Holding violated Dutch securities regulations.

A summons issued on Friday alleges that future shareholders were mislead over the nature of World Online's business.

Details of previous businesses

Revelations that that World Online's founder and chairwoman Nina Brink earlier sold two-thirds of her stake in the company at a price of 6.04 euros per share are crucial to the allegations.

The tens of thousands of investors who signed up for shares at 43 euros per share did not know about Ms Brink's sale of shares at such a lower price.

Since World Online's 17 March listing, the stock has plummeted.

Ms Brink has also been forced to quit following the outcry over her share sale.

Mr Van der Goen, in addition to more information on Ms Brink's sale of shares, hopes to hear more on her track record as an entrepreneur.

Shares up

The suit also seeks further information on the distribution of shares, details on corporate shareholders, World Online supervisory board members, and Ms Brink's financial past.

The information may serve as the basis for further legal action against ABN Amro and World Online.

The claimants are looking for damages covering their losses on World Online shares and a court ruling deeming the float illegitimate and no longer valid.

The Dutch shareholders association, the VEB, said on Friday that stock owners in possession of more than 3.25m World Online shares have filed complaints with the group.

The news of the suit came as World Online shares rose 11.7% to 16.20 euros, buoyed by the appointment of James Kinsella, president of MSNBC.com - a joint venture between Microsoft and NBC.

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See also:

13 Apr 00 | Business
World Online boss quits
30 Mar 00 | Business
European internet fever cools
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