Internet bandwidth broker Asia Capacity Exchange (ACE) has shut down after key investors decided to cut their losses and move on. It marks an inauspicious end to a company that only six months ago predicted it would be a major player in the international market for trading communications capacity as a commodity. Richard Parkinson, managing director for Whitney and Co, the largest investor in ACE, said the decision to close was made early this month. 'We are in the process of finding a buyer to take on the assets of the company. At this point it is not really operating as a going concern,' Mr Parkinson said. Most of ACE's staff of 32, including founders Paula Brillson and Renaud Palliere, lost their jobs. The company's Web site is not operating, and its listed phone number does not work. ACE was created in March 1999 as a business-to-business portal where telecommunications firms, Internet service providers (ISPs) and other related companies could buy or sell bandwidth on a virtual trading floor. It was promoted as the first forum of its type in Asia. In an interview in December last year with the South China Morning Post , an ACE executive predicted the company would be brokering options on bandwidths in the next six months. He forecast a full derivatives market in the next two to three years. Sources familiar with the company said it never managed to broker more than a handful of deals, and had only one major transaction. Mr Parkinson said he believed there eventually would be a market for trading in bandwidth, but that the demand in Asia was slow to mature. 'This was a strategic decision. We decided to go in another direction,' he said. ACE is privately held, with Whitney and Hong Kong venture capitalist Partners-e the major investor. Whitney's involvement with ACE was reported to be worth millions of US dollars. One source said Whitney had about US$3 million in investments and loans to ACE. Mr Parkinson said the figure was not that high, but refused to discuss the finances in detail. ACE's business plan was to make money through subscriptions (US$125 a month) and taking a fee from deals conducted through the site. The company recently announced a global expansion plan, including an office in Bangkok and a partnership agreement with HCN in India. There are several other companies looking to run online bandwidth exchanges in Asia, including New York-based Arbinet and London-based Band-X. Andrew Pang, chief executive of Band-X Hong Kong, said he was not deterred by the failure of ACE. 'Bandwidth trading is already very profitable for us in the US and London and we are confident that it will pick up in Hong Kong as well,' he said.