DealZone

Wilhelmina models want to take it public

January 14, 2009

Wilhelmina International Inc, the modeling and talent agency behind the careers of such beauties as Anjelica Houston, Lauren Hutton, Jessica Lange and the VH1 reality series “The Agency” in 2007, is planning to bring some sizzle to the world of stock trading.

Wilhelmina is hoping to be acquired by the publicly traded New Century Equity Holdings, which would then take the name “Wilhelmina International Inc,”- and presto! it’s a public company. The deal will be voted on by New Century owners at a meeting in Dallas Feb. 5.

New Century, previously a billing services and software company for the telecommunications industry,  plans to acquire Wilhelmina for $15 million in cash, and $15 million in New Century common  stock.

Maybe the models can help New Century’s drooping shares rise again- they were down 17 percent, going for 15 cents on Wednesday in over the counter (OTC) market trading.

In a statement, the agency, founded in 1967 by supermodel Wilhelmina Cooper,  said being public would “enhance the quality and perspective” of models and other talent, and would allow it to make future acquisitions.

But it did not say whether after going public, it would try to graduate to a major exchange like the Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange, nor whether it would raise new money. So even if this deal is a go, it won’t count as an IPO.

The task of re-energizing the IPO market instead falls on the shoulders of the somewhat less sexy Ohio-based homeland security company O’Gara, the only IPO currently on the schedule with a pricing set for the week of Feb. 9.

(Clarification: Lauren Hutton is currently represented by IMG Broadcasting agency.)

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