Chapman Financial reshuffles under Web

Investment firm announces plan to sell shares

Executives at Chapman Worldwide Financial Services recently announced they have filed for an initial public offering of eChapman.com, and even larger plans to unite the company’s holdings under the new company’s name.

Nathan A. Chapman Jr., president and chairman of Chapman Worldwide, confirmed eChapman’s registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Chapman Worldwide’s newest IPO will release about 3.33 million shares of eChapman, or 20%, to the public at an expected price of $14 to $16 per share, according to a company statement. Chapman would not comment further pending the SEC’s decision, but an eChapman IPO is possible during the first quarter of 2000.

As part of the proposal, the black-owned Baltimore-based financial group will also merge its affiliates-Chapman Holdings, financial manager for institutions and retailers and parent of the Chapman Co., an investment bank (No. 13 on the be investment banks list); Chapman Capital Management, an investment management group; and Chapman Insurance, which provides annuity products-behind the eChapman banner. According to a company statement, the merger and IPO would occur simultaneously.

Currently, two of the group’s three companies are publicly held-Chapman Holdings (Nasdaq: CMAN) and Chapman Capital Management (Nasdaq: CMGT). Chapman Holdings shareholders would receive about 1.93295 shares of eChapman, while holders of outstanding shares of Chapman Capital Management would be entitled to 2.23363 shares of the new venture, according to company estimates.

Created as an online financial services Website aimed at minorities and women, eChapman will attempt to promote its combined efforts to a wider audience. African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans and women — collectively referred to as “domestic emerging markets” (DEMs) by company executives-will be targeted by eChapman, according to company statements.

Officials at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition’s Wall Street Project (WSP), which monitors and promotes black businesses, say they are watching the reorganization of Chapman with great interest. WSP Director Chee Chee Williams says she hasn’t spoken to Chapman, but has been informed of the company’s new direction and is intrigued with the outcome.
While some may view Chapman’s Internet-focused reorganization as remarkable for a black investment firm, analysts say the move is indicative of the industry. Other major companies have recast themselves as e-firms, hoping to reach wider audiences.

That excitement, along with the attention that comes along with it, is high on corporate wish lists. “The hottest stocks are Internet oriented,” says John Goodhue, editor of the newsletter IPO Insider. “With the current economy, they’ll excite greater interest.”

ACROSS THE WEB