AOL, Motorola, Nokia Buy into Palm at IPO Price

3Com's Palm Inc. unit announced earlier this week that America Online, Motorola and Nokia have agreed to buy stakes in the company at the asking price of $A23 per share for its long-awaited initial public offering.

Internet service provider AOL and Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia will both purchase 2.1 million Palm shares, while Motorola will take 1.7 million shares in the handheld device maker, Palm said in a statement issued yesterday.

The initial Palm share offering will consist of 23 million common shares to be sold to outside investors, according to the statement. At that price, the IPO should raise $A530 million, excluding costs such as underwriter fees.

Formerly a wholly-owned 3Com subsidiary, Palm is the company behind the Palm operating system and one of the most popular series of handheld computing devices on the market today. Palm will after completion of the initial offering become a separate, publicly-traded company. Even after the IPO, though, 3Com will still hold 532 million shares in Palm, owning nearly 95 percent of the unit's common stock, Palm said in the statement.

Palm's IPO price has risen steadily recently, from as low as $A9 per share, according to 3Com officials. The Palm shares could start trading on the Nasdaq exchange in New York as early as this week.

Coinciding with the IPO, smart card maker E-Pass Technologies earlier this week announced it had filed suit against 3Com alleging that the Palm design infringed upon one of its patents.

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