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VIA NET.WORKS, Inc. - the business-focused telco in Europe and the US which recently said it was facing an "urgent liquidity problem" - has agreed to be rescued by UK ISP Claranet for $27m.

Yesterday both companies said they had signed a letter of intent for Claranet to snaffle up VIA NET.WORKS. Although it is still early days, Claranet has coughed up a $3m deposit for exclusive negotiation rights with VIA until 30 April.

Should the deal get all the necessary rubber stamps, it would mean that Claranet would snap up all of VIA NET.WORKS's European and US businesses, including PSINet Europe's operations and the Amen Group.

Three weeks ago VIA NET.WORKS called in PricewaterhouseCoopers to help it secure new financing to address what it described as an "urgent liquidity problem". Netherlands-based VIA NET.WORKS had given itself until the end of March to either find new investment or flog all or part of the business.

Commenting on the launch of the Claranet lifeboat VIA's chief exec Ray Walsh said: "We have undertaken an intensive process these past several weeks working in parallel with a number of potential strategic partners to negotiate the best transaction for our shareholders. We also believe that Claranet's offer will provide the best value for our employees, customers, creditors and other constituencies."

If all goes to plan the deal should secure shareholder approval within the next two or three months.

Of course, VIA and Claranet have history. In September last year Claranet snapped up the UK operation of VIA for $13.2m prompting Claranet boss Charles Nasser to explain that the ISP is "consolidating its position" as a European provider of communication services to business while "adding to the group's future revenues and profits". ®

Related stories

VIA NET.WORKS faces liquidity crisis
Claranet buys VIA NET.WORKS UK
The Great ISP Buyout

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