Claranet closer to VIA buyout

Definitive agreements 'executed'

Claranet has taken another step forward in its bid to acquire VIA NET.WORKS.

The UK ISP has "executed definitive agreements for the sale of all the company's operations to Claranet" for $26.4m in cash. Claranet has also agreed to sub VIA with a loan of up to $7m to help the Europe and US-based business ISP carry on trading until the transaction is complete.

Confirmation that the deal is proceeding follows the publication of a letter of intent between Claranet and VIA on April 11. VIA had sought urgent financial assistance after warning that it faced an "urgent liquidity problem".

Claranet's $26.4m will buy it all of VIA's European and US businesses, including its brands VIA NET.WORKS, Amen and PSINet Europe. The deal also means that VIA "remains responsible for its corporate headquarters staff, other than those employees offered employment by Claranet, and all liabilities and expenses of the group".

Indeed, staffing issues remain a problem after staff at VIA's web host Amen went on strike following news of the proposed acquisition. In an open letter to Claranet boss Charles Nasser, striking workers said they still hadn't had a face-to-face meeting to discuss their concerns about future employment and pleaded with him to open negotiations.

A senior spokesman for Claranet said the company hoped to meet all VIA employees over the next couple of weeks, but was not in a position to comment further.

He told us: "The deal has not gone through yet and don't have any operational control of the company." ®

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