Chunk of Iridium falls into Aussie hands

Western Australian minerals exploration and telecommunications investment company Quadrant Australia appears to have bought itself a chunk of the ill-fated Iridium satellite communications network after agreeing to acquire Bareena Holdings. A statement released by Quadrant claimed that it will pay about $A34 million for at least 18 per cent of the Iridium network, which cost about $US5 billion to create.

The transaction hinges on Bareena, a company owned by Perth entrepreneur Michael Boyd, which owns 10.98 per cent of Iridium Holdings and has an option to increase its holding to 26.5 per cent, although that stake will reduce to 18 per cent if all other outstanding options are exercised.

A spokesman for Quadrant noted that the operating assets of Iridium have been purchased "very cheaply", and claimed that the company's cost structure has been reduced to about eight per cent of its former level.

He added that Iridium is back in business following the news that the US Pentagon has signed a two year contract with Iridium Holdings for the supply of unlimited services to the Department of Defence. That deal is claimed to be worth $US72 million and will lead to the supply of services to some 20,000 handsets used by "soldiers, sailors and airmen".

The company plans to begin offering a range of services to heavy industry and other government users this quarter.

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