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Director Who Helped Stabilize Homestore Quits

October 11, 2002|E. SCOTT RECKARD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Homestore Inc. said Thursday that it has lost a key director: construction and finance expert Barbara T. Alexander, one of the nation's leading housing analysts, who helped stabilize the Internet real estate firm after a major accounting scandal erupted last fall.

Alexander, 53, a senior advisor on investment banking deals at UBS Warburg, joined Homestore's board in April 2001. She resigned to devote more time to her other pursuits, the Westlake Village company said.

Alexander served on Homestore's audit committee, which met 63 times since November 2001, when the board learned that much of the company's reported advertising sales were bogus under national accounting standards.

An exodus of top executives early this year was followed by revelations that $160 million in Homestore revenue was improperly recorded in 2000 and 2001. Three former Homestore executives agreed last month to plead guilty to fraud and cooperate with government investigations.

Homestore's board, however, was given credit for its cooperation by Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and Securities and Exchange Commission officials, who said they would not charge the company itself.

Alexander supervised the reorganization of the firm's finances, helped hire new management and worked to select and manage outside lawyers and accountants who sorted out the mess, said Homestore Chairman Joe Hanauer.

Homestore said it has hired the executive search firm Spencer Stuart to find new directors for the board, which has six remaining members.

Alexander could not be reached for comment.

Homestore shares rose 4 cents to 37 cents on Nasdaq.

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