Telecom NZ Quiet on AOL Australia Deal

AUCKLAND (03/24/2000) - Both AAPT Ltd. and its parent company, Telecom New Zealand Ltd., are staying mum about the Australian telco's discussions with America Online Inc.(AOL) regarding AOL Australia.

Telecom NZ CEO Theresa Gattung has put great stock in strategies involving both Australia and New Zealand, and any move involving AOL Australia could have implications for Telecom's local consumer ISP (Internet service provider), Xtra.

But last week Telecom was referring enquiries to AAPT, and AAPT spokesperson Jessamy Mahony said the company could not make any comment beyond its statement to the Australian Stock Exchange.

The statement from AAPT company secretary Anil Sharma, in full, reads: "AAPT is in discussions with AOL concerning AOL Australia. These discussions have not concluded, in particular, the pricing and timing of any transaction, which might result from these discussions, have not been finalized. AAPT will keep the market informed of any material developments concerning these discussions."

The ASX halted trading in AAPT shares on Tuesday morning after it was revealed the two companies were in talks. AOL recently said it would buy German media company Bertelsmann's 50 percent stake in AOL Australia and AOL Europe in a stock deal believed to be worth between US$6.5 billion and $8.25 billion.

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