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Friday, 16 October 2020 08:10

5G Networks outbids US firm to keep Webcentral in Australian hands

5G Networks managing director Joe Demase. 5G Networks managing director Joe Demase. Supplied

Publicly-listed data infrastructure and network services provider 5G Networks will become the new owner of the Webcentral Group, after outbidding the Florida-based which had made an offer of $12.2 million, and having its counter offer cleared to proceed.

As iTWire reported, Webcentral said in July that it had entered a scheme implementation deed providing for to acquire all its shares for A$0.10 per share in cash via a scheme of arrangement.

5G Networks indicated that it would launch a takeover bid for Webcentral back in September, soon after it announced a $30 million capital raising.

Webcentral includes the small and medium-sized business assets of the Arq Group; these include the brands Netregistry, WME, Melbourne IT and Domainz.

Arq Group was earlier known as Melbourne IT Group. One of the earliest domain name sellers in Australia, Melbourne IT was founded in 1996 and became the leading registry provider. It later went public and grew throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. Other brands that were growing at the same time — Netregistry, Domainz and WME — later became part of Melbourne IT.

The company changed its name to Arq Group when it expanded through the acquisition of Infoready and Outware into enterprise cloud, mobile app, and data analytics. The sale of its enterprise business unit in June to Sydney-based private investment company Quadrant Private Equity on 26 June for $35 million led to a change in name to Webcentral Group.

On 7 September, 5G Networks launched its bid to take over Webcentral Group with a proposal that valued one 5G Networks share as worth 12 Webcentral shares. This meant an implied equity value of $21.6 million. made a counter-off on 17 September, to increase the consideration payable to $0.18 per Webcentral share. But the same day, Webcentral said it had determined this would not provide an equivalent or superior outcome for Webcentral shareholders compared to what 5G Networks was offering and terminated talks with

Under the offer, 5G Networks will acquire 34.75% of the Webcentral shares. The offer is due to close on 27 October.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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