Clear Communications sold to Kiwi-US consortium: analyst

It has been a long time coming: Clear Communications may finally have been sold.

It has been a long time coming: Clear Communications may finally have been sold.

Analysts were today abuzz with talk about a sale of the wholly-owned British Telecom subsidiary to a consortium of New Zealand investors and Berkshire Partners, a Boston-based financier.

“The ink is drying on the deal as we speak,” says one analyst covering the telco market.

Clear boss Peter Kaliaropoulos denies all knowledge of such a deal, but stresses he is part of the day-to-day management at Clear and not BT’s strategic planning department.

“There are no developments. All I can say is ownership is a matter for the shareholders and management focuses on performance.” Kaliaropoulos says BT has a separate team looking at the issue of ownership.

“They’re a separate team - I’m part of the operations team not mergers, acquisitions and disposals. They’d tell us a day or two before it would happen and there’s been nothing of the kind.”

But industry sources say Berkshire, a Tranz Rail shareholder, is fronting a consortium that includes Jump Capital and Todd Corporation, both of which have interests in the telecommunications sector.

Last year Jump Capital took part in the government’s 2Ghz spectrum auction, although it pulled out and ended the auction without buying the rights to any of the available slots. According to the New Zealand Herald it also walked away from a deal with Wilson Neill subsidiary Radionet, which would have seen Jump pumping $8 million into the wireless company. Jump’s backers include merchant bankers Michael Fay and David Richwhite.

Todd Corporation is listed in National Business Review’s annual Rich List as one of New Zealand’s richest family-owned companies.

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