AAPT still caught in acquisition throes

AAPT still caught in acquisition throes

Cable & Wireless Optus' aggressive bid to buy AAPT drew to a close this week when C&W Optus withdrew in line with industry pressure, but with another buyer in the wings the saga is far from over.

Rumours continue to swirl around the industry that Telecom New Zealand will boost its stake in AAPT from 9.9 per cent to around 20 per cent.

One industry analyst hailed such a move as good for both AAPT and Australia's fledging deregulated telecommunications market.

Paul Budde, a renowned industry analyst, explained the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) intervened as "judge" to reject C&W Optus' proposal on the grounds it could damage the prospects of a deregulated market just under two years old.

Budde said the two carriers may enter the acquisition ring again some years down the track once AAPT has grown to a similar size and profile as Telstra and C&W Optus.

As a result, Budde believes C&W Optus may point the finger at the ACCC at that time and argue the buyout should have happened years ago.

"For that reason the ACCC perhaps made a mistake, but they had to err on the conservative side," he said.

Budde said an investment boost in AAPT from Telcom New Zealand is "exactly what we need" in order to help AAPT develop its backbone and mobile networks.

"Telecom New Zealand I think is a very serious candidate," he said.

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