Superway faces liquidation

North Shore cable company Superway, which is up for sale, faces possible liquidation.

North Shore cable company Superway, which is up for sale, faces possible liquidation.

Otahuhu-based Infront Consultants, which was the main cable laying contractor for Superway, has filed an application to liquidate the company in the High Court which will be heard this month. The company is seeking payment for seven months’ work that it did in 1999 laying cable for a trial of a high-speed network service on Auckland’s North Shore.

However, Superway’s chairman Sir Ian McKay, says the company has filed affidavits opposing the liquidation order. The dispute centres around whether payment for the work was satisfied by the issue of Superway shares to Infront Consultants.

Computerworld understands that Ericsson is also owed money for switching equipment and that law firm Rudd Watts and Stone is another creditor.

Superway, which no longer has a chief executive, managing director or premises, was put up for sale several months ago. However, the three-year-old company continues to provide service to a handful of customers on the North Shore with ISP Voyager providing the gateway.

Voyager’s corporate unit general manager, David Kelly, says Voyager may cease providing the gateway at any time depending on what happens with Superway.

The customers are the remainder of 16 businesses which took part in a pilot launched in 1999 to provide high-speed ADSL-based services on the North Shore. Customers were connected via copper to fibre running down Ellice Road in Glenfield.

One of the biggest users was South Seas Film and Television School in Glenfield. It continued to use Superway until the end of last year but switched to Telecom’s JetStream offering because of Superway’s intermittent service.

However, South Seas operations manager Rob Verhoeven says when Superway’s network was available it gave higher speeds than Jetstream — up to 10Mbit/s.

“When the service was up it was brilliant. The guys were very good and it wasn’t for lack of trying. The trouble with those sorts of things is they need huge capitalisation.”

Three months ago the Superway board appointed David Hayde, managing director of investment management company Carlyle Venture Capital, to sell the company as a going concern to a telecommunications carrier or network provider. Hayde says a number of people have expressed interest and he is now negotiating with a short list. He wouldn’t say who or how many parties he is talking to or what the company is valued at.

One possible buyer, United Networks, would not confirm or deny whether it is one of those parties. However, United Networks managing director Sean McDonald says the company is always interested in investing in new business in New Zealand that is aligned with its core business from a network perspective.

Superway was formed in September 1998 and planned to roll out a high-speed fibre network, capable of delivering telephony, TV and high-speed data services, on Auckland’s North Shore and Whangaparoa peninsula. It signed an interconnection agreement with Telecom the same year and launched a pilot of its high-speed network in 1999.

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