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Italian television and Internet company Sitcom SpA made good on its threat to sue its former adviser, Chase Manhattan Corp., for scrapping the planned initial public offering for the media business. Sitcom filed a breach of contract lawsuit Tuesday in the Milan, Italy court against the now-merged J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., for L324.6 billion ($155 million) over the investment banking company’s decision last December that resulted in the cancellation of Sitcom’s IPO. Michael Golden, a spokesman for J.P. Morgan Chase, reiterated an earlier statement that his company had pulled the offer due to a lack of sufficient investor interest. “We are confident that we acted professionally,” Golden said. He declined further comment, citing the litigation. Shares of Sitcom, a content provider for satellite TV and Internet, were set to begin trading on Milan’s Nuovo Mercato on Dec. 13. Plans for the market listing were abruptly halted the previous day. Sitcom charged Tuesday in its lawsuit that Chase had failed to meet its contractual obligations. “The decision to take the case to court was obligatory,” said Sitcom chief executive officer Valter La Tona. “The missed quotation has left a shadow over the company which Chase caused and which must be removed.” La Tona said that Sitcom could revive its stock market listing plans at the beginning of next year. “For six months, we concentrated on a stock market listing and for at least six months now we want to concentrate on the company itself,” he said. “This has been a nightmare and we still don’t understand exactly how it happened. Chase showed a lack of respect for the market.” Chase Manhattan Bank was the global coordinator for the Sitcom offer while Chase subsidiaries Robert Fleming SIM SpA and Robert Fleming & Co. Ltd. were, respectively, the sponsor and specialist trader for the placement. La Tona repeated his charge that most of those in the Chase/Fleming equity capital markets team, including bankers following the Sitcom deal, had left during the course of the offering, compromising the deal. Sitcom said the damages amount is based on the failure of the IPO to go through. The offering itself is based on valuations of Sitcom contained in a presentation to investors. Sitcom also may seek damages based on the resulting bad publicity. Sitcom said that the phases of the placement had been analyzed and concluded that Banca Aletti, lead manager and co-sponsor for the deal, along with the company itself, fulfilled their respective placement responsibilities. At the same time, Sitcom charged that J.P. Morgan Chase had not met its responsibilities and had even acted in a way that prejudiced a positive outcome to the placement. Italian law firm Studio Legale Previti, headed by former Italian Defense Minister Cesare Previti, is handling the case for Sitcom. Copyright (c)2001 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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