BSkyB / Easynet

BSkyB has confirmed this morning that it has made a cash offer of 175p per share for Easynet – an offer that values the ISP at £211m.

According to BSkyB, Easynet directors have unanimously recommended to shareholders that they accept the "fair and reasonable" offer.

The Murdoch-owned satellite provider said it had decided to acquire Easynet, which made £8.9m in EBITDA last year, because of its significant broadband presence in the UK as well as its efforts in local loop unbundling (LLU).

To date, Easynet has unbundled 232 local exchanges and was also the first major company to take on BT in providing wholesale broadband with its LLUStream product.

It also numbers several big names in its corporate roster, including Christian Dior, H&M and Volvo, and local councils including Reading and Slough from the public sector. According to figures from BSkyB, Easynet has also unbundled 18 per cent – or 4.5 million - UK homes, with 23 per cent expected to be unbundled by July 2006.

It's thought BSkyB may look to turn Easynet into more of a consumer, rather than business, ISP, opening up the potential for BSkyB and Easynet to cross-sell broadband access and video on demand or triple play services to each others' customers.

Aside from expanding BSkyB's product range, the acquisition may have broader implications for the UK broadband market as a whole. With homes and not businesses likely to be BSkyB's focus, Easynet's LLUStream – used by companies including Onetel - could fall by the wayside.

The acquisition marks the latest signal of a trend towards consolidation in the broadband market, following the news earlier this month of NTL's acquisition of Telewest and Pipex's buyout of Freedom2Surf.

(c) Silicon.com


Pipex / Freedom2Surf

The UK broadband market is witnessing further consolidation following the news that Pipex is to buy Freedom2Surf.

The £10m deal will see Pipex add an additional 40,000 customers to its existing base of 210,000. As well as snapping up additional customers, Pipex will take ownership of cash reserves of £1.2m.

According to Pipex, the post-acquisition entity is now the UK's fifth largest supplier of broadband services over DSL.

(c) Silicon.com


VeriSign / Moreover Technologies

VeriSign Inc has confirmed its acquisition of web-based distributor of news and online material, Moreover Technologies, in a deal valued at around USD30m in cash.

According to VeriSign the acquisition combines its own information delivery technology with Moreover's links to millions of blogs and over 12,000 news sources. The acquisition is expected to increase the stability of real-time content delivery for Moreover's customers, which include AskJeeves, the BBC and MSN. In addition, it should enable bloggers and publishers to more easily track and distribute their content.

The acquisition of Moreover follows VeriSign's recent USD2.3m purchase of Weblogs Inc, a service alerting subscribers to new blog postings. Merrill Lynch, a financial management and advisory company, claimed the two purchases move VeriSign into a position appropriate to target mobile users.

(c) Internet Business News


Foyles / Bookplace

Bookseller Foyles has announced that it has acquired the parent company of Internet-based bookstores The Bookplace.com and Computerbooks.co.uk, Bookplace Limited.

According to reports, Foyles initially plans to operate the Bookplace websites independently from its own online shop. It will eventually develop a strategy "to bring them closer without losing their individual customer appeal", said Publishing News.

The Bookplace not only sells to online visitors but also handles online sales for a range of publishers, schools and businesses, while Computerbooks.co.uk has links with distributor Computer Bookshops.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

(c) Internet Business News


NTL / Telewest

Telecom operator NTL unveiled on Monday a 6.0-billion-dollar (5.0-billion-euro) recommended takeover of smaller rival Telewest, creating the second-biggest telecoms company in Britain.

The new group, which will cater for almost five million television and Internet subscribers, will be better placed to compete with market leader BT Group and satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

The deal ends months of speculation over a tie-up between the two groups, which are both listed in New York.

Under the terms of the approved takeover, Telewest investors will receive 16.25 US dollars in cash and 0.115 shares of NTL stock for each share they own, NTL said in an official statement.

Telewest shareholders will be left with 25-percent stake following the transaction, which values the smaller group at 23.93 dollars per share, or around 6.0 billion dollars.

The enlarged company will be Britain's largest individual provider of residential broadband Internet services with 2.5 million subscribers, and will be the second-biggest pay TV group with 3.3 million customers, NTL said.

The group would also be Britain's leading triple play service provider, offering telephone, Internet and television services in one package.

The takeover would lead to total cost savings of 1.5 billion pounds after integration costs, NTL added. By reducing its cost base, NTL expects an improvement in annual cash flow of some 250 million pounds by 2009.

NTL shares closed at 66.80 dollars per share on the Nasdaq exchange on Friday, while Telewest closed at 22.95 dollars.

NTL, based at Hook in Hampshire, southern England, emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2003 and began a major financial overhaul to generate new capital and reduce interest repayment charges.

NTL generated 2.1 billion pounds of revenues last year compared with the 1.3-billion-pound turnover of Telewest.

(c) Agence France Presse