Acquisitions on the cards for APV

Acquisitions on the cards for APV

Access Providers (APV) is hunting for acquisitions and partnerships to drive its national growth roadmap. But in stark contrast, rival player, Unwired, has signalled its intention to stay away from mergers and concentrate on building its own WiMax network.

CEO, Keith Ondarchie, said the business wireless broadband carrier was looking for companies that would increase geographic coverage or boost its services capabilities.

"In recent months we have realised we will have to grow quicker than our original plan and not just use our cash flow," he said. "There are pressures in the marketplace from other players."

In particular, APV was interested in organisations with skills in sales and marketing, Ondarchie said. But it was also keen to increase customer numbers through acquisitions in the recently entered markets of Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide. Preliminary talks were underway, he said.

"We're looking at opportunities in Sydney for geographic growth," he said. "This won't necessarily be a wireless company, but an organisation which can assist us with backhaul services."

In an ASX statement last month, APV declared $4 million in customer receipts for the year to June 30, up from $730,000 the previous year. In addition, the company reported its first net operating cash flows of $1.5 million, against a deficit of $100,000 the year before.

"With strong cash reserves underpinning out operations we are in a great position to pursue acquisition opportunities," Ondarchie said.

APV stepped onto the acquisitions path with its purchase of Online 2000 in July. The decision gave it access to new business customers as well as much needed consulting services, he said.

The company was also extending its partner network to allow for stronger growth outside its Melbourne home base, Ondarchie said. It already boasts of a network sharing relationship with wireless broadband provider, BigAir.

"We have a good reseller base in Melbourne but not so much in other states so we're looking to address that," he said. These partners would be used to grow take-up of services in both SMB and larger enterprise markets, Ondarchie said.

By contrast, fellow wireless broadband provider, Unwired, was planning to steer away from acquisitions and focus solely on raising capital to fund a WiMax-ready network, CEO, David Spence, said.

In its end of year cash report, Unwired reported significantly higher customer receipts of $12.7 million for the full year to June 30. Its final quarter results were $4.84 million, up 38 per cent on the previous quarter. However, its net cash balance was a loss of $24.1 million. The company reported 28,148 subscribers.

Spence said it was happy with both its customer growth and services portfolio. The next year would be spent ensuring it built a national network across the country that would be WiMax (802.16e) compatible, he said. "We don't want to build too quickly on the wrong platform," he said. "We are working on the next round of technology before building up all cities. If we can build a good quality network, we'll be in the right position for customers buying consumer electronics products with built-in WiMax chips. "You won't see much from Unwired next year. The growth will be later next year or in 2007/2008."

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