Clear Communications' senior managers stood and applauded after a presentation from British Telecom executives on Friday, shortly before BT made public its plans to increase its shareholding in Clear to 100%.
BT currently owns 25% of Clear and its purchase of the remaining sharescan be seen as both a vote of confidence in the company and a chance to break free of at least two distinterested shareholders.
Television New Zealand recently made it plain it did not consider its 25% stake in Clear as strategic, and MCI WorldCom has been ready to offload its 25% stake since an agreement with BT last year when BT sold its 20% holding in MCI and MCI sold its interest in Concert, BT's global services company and now a wholly-owned BT subsidiary.
BT will acquire the remaining 25% of the company from Todd Corporation. The proposed terms are subject to regulatory approvals.
Clear's marketing communications manager Ross Inglis says short-term effects from the acquisition will be relatively few: "In the long term you can expect some fairly significant developments in data, Internet and online services, but this isn't really about that, it's about resolving our shareholding."
Richard Slogrove, President, BT Asia-Pacific and Japan, said the strengthening of BT's position in New Zealand "sends a strong signal to the marketplace of BT's continued commitment to and interest in the Asia Pacific region, where we have made substantial investments in the last year. We hope that this move will strengthen further our customers' confidence in Clear and we are looking forward to working with both the people of Clear and its customers to provide real choice in New Zealand."
BT's increased shareholding in Clear follows its recent investments in Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, Japan and India.