TNZ secures controlling stake in AAPT

Telecom New Zealand (TNZ) has taken an 80 per cent controlling stake in AAPT and is seeking representation on the board of directors.

The offer for shares in AAPT by TCNZ Australia Investments (TNZ Australia), a wholly owned subsidiary of TNZ, announced in mid-September, closed on Saturday.

Angus Barclay, financial communications manager at TNZ, said the company now owned 81.52 per cent of current AAPT shares and has 78.24 per cent of controlling shares, taking options into account.

Key AAPT shareholders, Cable & Wireless Optus and AAP Communications Holdings (AAPCH), a subsidiary of John Fairfax Holdings AAP Information Service (AAPIS) accepted TNZ's offer on Thursday and Friday respectively.

CWO Optus had a 10.6 per cent stake in AAPT and AAPCH had a 44 per cent stake.

"On Thursday, October 28, we declared the bid unconditional. At that stage, we expected that AAPIS and CWO would accept the offer," Barclay said, adding that TNZ was only expecting to gain 75 per cent of shares.

He said TNZ and AAPT would discuss future plans for AAPT over the next several days.

"The management of AAPT is up to AAPT, but we will be seeking representation on the board of directors," he said.

TNZ was attracted to AAPT because of the strong entrepreneurial nature and strong management, Barclay said.

"We still believe they've got strong management and very good entrepreneuial culture," he said.

According to Barclay, TNZ has no further plans to buy more AAPT shares or shares in other Australian telecommunications companies.

"Our presence in Australia is effectively AAPT," he said.

Despite recommending shareholders reject TNZ's offer, AAPT's board of directors has welcomed TNZ as the majority shareholder.

"We are obviously a little surprised that a number of our institutional shareholders sold at the low price offer. Telecom has bought well and we now look forward to working with them to continue to deliver the exceptional returns that AAPT has delivered to date," AAPT chairman, Lee Casey said.

"We are delighted that in Telecom , AAPT has secured a long term shareholder who appreciates the value in the company and who is committed to its success."

According to AAPT's CEO Larry Williams, TNZ is fully supportive of AAPT strategies, including the planned CDMA rollout, LMDS launch and expansion of the fibre network in the capital cities.

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