Brady gagged as lawyers move in

The legal battle over a $20 million down payment lodged by eisa in its failed bid to purchase OzEmail from UUNet has generated its first gag orders.

Eisa chief executive Damien Brady says he has been barred from talking with the press.

Brady was recalled from a Queensland holiday on the weekend for consultations with eisa's chairman and lawyers following the appearance of a BRW article. The story alleged that eisa's attempt to buy OzEmail for $325 million was surreptitiously undercut by UUNet and OzEmail executives despite the $20 million down payment and promises of cooperation. Eisa is now suing to recover the money.

Brady, who was quoted in the article, says he is under a gag order for at least two weeks following legal discussions. "All sides have agreed to refrain from making comments to the press for that period."

Based on what it calls confidential emails and legal letters, the BRW article alleges that some senior OzEmail executives placed obstacles in the way of the deal. Singled out for mention were OzEmail general manager Justin Milne and former UUNet Asia-Pacific chief executive David Spence. A spokesperson for OzEmail declined to comment on the allegations.

The $20 million non-refundable deposit was paid by eisa on February 10 to secure a period of exclusivity during which it was to raise the balance of the purchase price. The deal ultimately collapsed in early June when potential financial backers pulled out.

Since then regional pay TV company Austar United Communications has launched a $25 million takeover bid that values eisa near its current share price of just over 20 cents, or just 7 per cent of its March 10 high point.

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