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Energis pays £75 million for Planet Online

Independent ISP falls to telco

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Paul Sykes, our least favourite mult-millionaire, has done it again. The businessman from Yorkshire (the county for which the word dour was invented), who funds the election expenses of anti-European Conservative MPs out of his own pocket, is in the money again. This time through his major stake in Planet Online, the Leeds-based Internet Service Provider, which has been bought by Energis for £75 million. The company will pay up to £10 million more, dependent on Planet hitting performance targets by March 2000. The sale of Planet Online follows closely on the heels of the £66 million sale of Demon Internet, the UK's biggest ISP, to Scottish Telecom. Easynet and Internet Technology Group , both listed on AIM and both loss-making, are perhaps the sole remaining UK independent ISPs commanding significant customer bases. Energis is the UK telco arm of power utility firm National Grid. The company claims it already carries 40 per cent of the UK's Internet traffic. It says the addition of Planet will enable it to deliver more services, as well as giving it access to a blue-chip customer base. Planet Online's customers include Barclays, PowerGen , Mirror Group Newspapers Sony Computer Entertainments. And in a roundabout way, The Register. It is galling to think that in we may in some small way be contributing to Mr. Sykes' anti-European crusade. We can live with that - if some of the Energis dosh makes its way to Planet's networking infrastructure. This promptly fell over the very day we transferred our web hosting to the company. A core router collapse was the excuse.®

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