telco moguls pick up 10pc of swiftel

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    Article in this morning's "West Australian":

    Telco Moguls Pick up 10pc of Swiftel

    By Fran Spencer

    MARKET scuttlebutt on Swiftel proved to be on the money yesterday, with the Perth telco confirming a 10 per cent stake in the company had been snapped up by interests associated with the two biggest privately owned telco service providers in Australia and New Zealand.

    In a statement to the stock exchange, Swiftel said it had placed 14 million shares and options with "parties associated with industry professionals Colin Marland and Malcolm Dick" in a deal worth $840,000.

    Mr Marland is a director and co-founder of People Tel, the Sydney-based reseller which recently established a base in Perth and struck a cross-sales alliance with Swiftel.

    Mr Dick is a co-founder and director of Call Plus, New Zealand's No. 3 fixed-line carrier and internet service provider, and also holds a board seat at Australia and New Zealand ISP iHug.

    Yesterday's announcement did not name the investment vehicles which had taken the stake in Swiftel, but one is understood to be e-Cash, a privately-owned company that counts Mr Marland and People Tel chief executive and co-founder Ryan O'Hare as its sole directors.

    The move is likely to spark further speculation on the possibility of the unlisted but much larger People Tel making a bid for greater control of Swiftel down the track, a theory first voiced by industry observers following last month's cross-sales tie-up.

    That deal has allowed Swiftel to diversify for the first time into voice products, principally telephone calls, making the telco's offerings more attractive.

    Swiftel and People Tel will bundle each other's products for sale on one bill and under their own brands.

    Swiftel said yesterday the $840,000 raised by the share deal would be used for the Perth company's expansion to the eastern seaboard, with a Melbourne office due to open this month.

    Shares in the junior telco jumped nearly 34 per cent last week after the company said it expected to make a maiden profit of $1.48 million for the year to June 30, thanks in part to a revenue boost from its fledgling ADSL service.

    Swiftel shares retreated 0.1¢ to 8.7¢ yesterday.

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