Converge Inc., an online marketplace founded by Hewlett-Packard Inc. and 14 other technology companies, said it would buy NECX, an electronic components trading exchange owned by VerticalNet Inc. The acquisition is expected to help Converge expand the reach of its online marketplace and further knock down inefficiencies that cost high-tech companies billions each year. Under the terms of the sale, Horsham, Pa.-based VerticalNet will receive $60 million in cash, a 19.9% equity interest in Converge and a seat on its board. The sale is expected to close in the first quarter of 2001. NECX, which does not conduct a majority of its business on the Internet, contributed more than half of VerticalNet's third-quarter revenue. That fueled investors' fears that VerticalNet did not fit its description as an e-commerce company. Its shares fell 81 cents, to close at $5.38 on Nasdaq.