PowerTel snares Request for $54m

Christmas has come a few days early for Request Broadband shareholders after the company announced on Monday that it will be taken over by PowerTel.

PowerTel has offered to buy 100 per cent of Request for a purchase price of $54 million.

The deal is expected to be completed in February 2004.

The sale has been accepted by the Request board and all its shareholders. Request is majority owned by Telecom Venture Group with 87.5 per cent share, followed by Pilbara Mines' 9.5 per cent. The remaining 3 per cent is owned by company founders and option holders.

"It is considered the best option for Pilbara to maximise the value of its investment in Request," said Denis Waddell, managing director for Pilbara Mines.

PowerTel now gets a bigger foothold into the Australian broadband market, which was a major reason for the acquisition. Request is already a major player in the SME DSL market, offering services such as IP VPNs, voice over broadband, and business grade broadband Internet access.

PowerTel CEO Shane Allan said the acquisition will allow PowerTel to significantly expand the company's network reach, product and distribution capabilities. It also gives PowerTel access to Request's substantial channel partner network, he said.

PowerTel's customer base is large corporates. The largest portion of its business are in voices services such as ISDN, teleconferencing and long distance. These comprise some 55 per cent of the business.

On the data side, the company also provides leased lines, ATM, Frame Relay, Ethernet and managed router services. The company believes this data side of the business will grow by almost 10 per cent thanks to the Request.

Request is also an attractive buy for PowerTel as the company has no debt. According to a PowerTel statement the company has annualised revenue of approximately $35 million. Also encouraging was the fact Request's September quarter revenues for 2003 were 90 per cent up on the previous year's September quarter.

PowerTel's Shane Allan will continue as CEO at PowerTel while Request's CEO Phil Sykes will become PowerTel's new chief operating officer.

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