Hires New Investment Bank

Bloomberg News and Times Staff Reports, the money-losing Internet shopping service under scrutiny by regulators and shareholders, said it ended its controversial relationship with its investment banker, Irvine-based Waldron & Co. The Corona del Mar-based company said it hired Ladenburg Thalmann & Co. of New York as its investment banker and financial advisor to help evaluate "strategic opportunities." What those opportunities are isn't clear. Officials at and Ladenburg couldn't be reached. Waldron took public at $9 a share in November and also was its biggest customer last year, accounting for 40% of its sales. The companies attracted the attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission when's stock soared to more than $30 for no apparent reason. Waldron President Cery Perle said the parting with was mutual and amicable. shares were up 75 cents to $24.50 on the Nasdaq Bulletin Board, a largely unregulated electronic market.

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