Futuris' Amcom stake finds a home

Local telco Amcom Telecommunications has moved to shore up its future by buying back some of the 50 per cent stake its partial parent Futuris had been looking to sell.

Local telco Amcom Telecommunications has moved to shore up its future by buying back some of the 50 per cent stake its partial parent Futuris had been looking to sell.

"Amcom Telecommunications Limited requests a trading halt in its listed securities with immediate effect, pending the release of an important announcement regarding a proposed corporate transaction," Amcom company secretary Tiam Kotze said in a letter to the Australian Securities Exchange.

ZDNet.com.au understands that the 50 per cent Amcom stake which was previously held by diversified industrial firm Futuris will be partially sold for around market prices to new investors and partially bought back by Amcom for cancellation.

Acquired by a rival, the stake could have left Amcom open to being taken over.

Futuris said two weeks ago that it intended to sell off its Amcom stake "on an expeditious basis". Telecom NZ was named by analysts as a possible buyer, but it declined to comment.

Amcom will spend the next few days finding extra investors to create the right balance between how much the company bought versus the amount investors purchased, although it was tipped to come out at around half to two thirds taken by investors with the rest bought by the company.

No related party transactions (such as other telcos) were on the cards, with the sell down said to be spread over high net-worth investors, no one of which will hold more than 20 per cent of the company.

Such a transaction would put iiNet in the clear. It had been watching the transaction with interest because Telecom New Zealand already held an 18.27 per cent stake in the internet service provider since September last year, courtesy of its subsidiary AAPT's January 2007 acquisition of PowerTel.

Buying Futuris' piece of Amcom would have given Telecom NZ a larger stake in iiNet. Amcom held around 23 per cent of iiNet as of June this year.

Amcom Chairman Anthony Grist wasn't able to comment on the halt when contacted. "We can't comment until we come out of trade halt, but it's on the public record that Futuris have announced they'll be exiting their non-core investments including their Amcom stake," he said.

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