Cash crunch threatens KPNQwest

Liquidators issue new threat, while Alcatel seems to have relented for now

Liquidators for the bankrupt service provider KPNQwest have still not received money promised by customers last week. Unless they get the money required to keep the network running for the next two weeks, they will withdraw their support from the network at midday Belgian time (11:00 a.m. BST) on Wednesday, they said on Tuesday. This will effectively shut the network down, although the liquidators only say "it is likely that this will lead to disruptions of the network in the immediate future, and eventually to a complete close down of the network." "I'm not sure how much credibility yet another ultimatum has," said Ebone staff spokesman Graham Kinsey. "This is going to be viewed as idle threats." Money to pay the Ebone team has apparently already been paid to the Belgian liquidators handling that centre, and may be safe. In any case, the Ebone team are prepared to work another week without pay, "if there is a chance of a sale," said Kinsey. The liquidators' threat may simply be a gesture to "remind" customers to part with their money. The most likely laggard is the Dutch telco, KPN, which owes substantial sums to KPNQwest, and pledged a reported 8.8m euros. Alcatel, one of the suppliers owed money by KPNQwest, has so far not acted on its threat to shut the network down on Tuesday unless it received 15m euros.

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