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Acacia up for national NBN bid

Further details have emerged about Acacia, the shadowy bidder for the government's $4.7 billion national broadband network, including the fact that it is planning an Australia-wide roll-out that would not be confined to a single state.
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Written by Suzanne Tindal, News Editor on

Further details have emerged about Acacia, the shadowy bidder for the government's $4.7 billion national broadband network (NBN), including the fact that it is planning an Australia-wide roll-out that would not be confined to a single state.

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macguys, CC2.0

When reports first surfaced of a group called Acacia lodging its $5 million bond to be eligible to bid for the network, the word was that its submission would be a state-based bid, like TransACT's for the ACT or the Tasmanian Government's for its own state. Almost no media attention has been given to the group, which is led by prominent local businessmen.

Recently, however, industry sources have indicated that Acacia is very much a national bid, one for which the leg work has quietly been coming along. Acacia has been talking to "all the right people" such as network hardware suppliers, according to sources, but its modus operandi has been extremely secretive, with tight non-disclosure agreements in place.

If Acacia were to win a bid, it would not only need an impressive array of partners to roll out the network, but also to operate the finished product. As with the other bids, talks surrounding these lucrative deals have been kept closely under wraps.

Directors of the Acacia Australia Group are Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce chairman Leon Kempler and former Telstra executive Lawrence Paratz, according to the Australian, with investors including Steven Skala, vice-president of Deutsche Bank in Australia as well as directors from KPMG and the founders of employment website Seek.

In its regulatory submission regarding the network, Acacia seemed to lean closer to Terria than Telstra, with the group convinced that separation was necessary in the form of a rule that the new network owner should only be able to trade in wholesale and not sell retail broadband.

It also wanted assurances that the owners of existing copper networks such as Telstra would be forced to give access to the network builder, as well as amendments to communications legislation which would prohibit all carriers except the national broadband network provider from rolling out certain infrastructure, to protect the bidder's investment.

Acacia director Leon Kempler was unavailable for comment at the time of writing this article.

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