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Vitesse tees up stock offering

By   /   Thursday, December 6th, 2012  /   Comments Off

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Camarillo-based Vitesse Semiconductor is planning a stock offering despite years of losses and a shareholder base that’s underwater in terms of book value.

Vitesse said Dec. 6 that it plans an offering that will be underwritten by Needham & Company as the sole bookrunning manager of the offering and Craig-Hallum Capital Group as co-manager. The proceeds will be used as working capital, and the offering is expected to price on Friday.

Vitesse has struggled to return to consistent profits after a stock-options backdating scandal erupted in 2006. The firm eventually paid $8.7 million to settle lawsuits over the claims. In turn, it won a $22.5 million lawsuit of its own against the account firm KPMG related to the scandal.

Louis Tomasetta, the ex-CEO of Vitesse, and former Executive Vice President Eugene Hovanec faced multiple counts of fraud in a federal court in New York. They faced up to 20 years in prison for the most serious allegations, but their trial ended in a mistrial earlier this year when a jury deadlocked.

Vitesse turned in a profit in 2008, its only profitable full year since 2006. In its fiscal year 2012, however, the company narrowed its net loss to $1.1 million and turned in an operating profit.

But Vitesse still offers investors a negative value. Its net tangible book value – that is, all of its tangible assets minus its liabilities – is a negative $27.8 million, or a negative $1.08 per share.

The offering news came out after markets closed. Vitesse shares fell 3.2 percent to $2.09 on Dec. 6.

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