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.

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