NEWS FLASH: MCI WorldCom offers to buy OzEmail

A unit of MCI WorldCom will make a cash offer for leading Australian Internet service provider OzEmail, the US company has announced.

The Jackson, Mississippi-based telecomms giant announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary UUNET Holdings Australia Pty Ltd will offer to buy all the issued ordinary shares of OzEmail Ltd. for a price of $US2.20 per share. OzEmail has 146.7 million ordinary shares issued, valued at about $US322.8 million, the US company said in a release issued yesterday.

MCI WorldCom has already purchased 14.9 per cent of the Australian ISP or 21.9 million newly issued ordinary shares at $US2 per share, the company said yesterday.

The deal is contingent on several conditions being met including government and regulatory approvals, MCI WorldCom said.

If the offer succeeds, OzEmail would become the Internet "operating arm" of UUNET Holdings Australia, the companies said. The Australian Internet service provider has around 80 POPs (points of presence) in Australia along with 15 POPs in New Zealand.

OzEmail is also at the forefront of introducing voice-over-IP (Internet Protocol) to the Australian market. OzEmail Interline Pty Ltd, a joint venture with Swiss company Interline and Australian telecomms equipment manufacturer Ideata, signed Internet telephony pacts with GRIC Communications and Cisco Systems earlier this year.

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