Pipex seeks buyer for remaining assets after £8.5m interim loss

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The Independent Online

Pipex has appointed the investment bank UBS to sell off the company's remaining assets as it swung to a loss in the first half of the year after restating its accounts.

Pipex recently completed the £210m sale of its broadband and telecoms assets to Tiscali, and after receiving a number of approaches for its remaining assets the company has moved to find a buyer for the residual businesses, comprising aweb hosting unit, a networkservices division and a wireless broadband joint venture with Intel built around the wimax standard.

It is no surprise that the residual business has been put on the block, and the process of finding a buyer is expected to take around three months.

The company recorded a loss before tax of £8.5m in the first half of the year compared to a small profit in the same period a year earlier, after restatingits accounts using the IFRSstandard. Revenue increased nearly 60 per cent to £189m over the period, although the vastmajority of that figure was derived from its large consumer broadband and voice business, famous for its adverts using the former Baywatch star David Hasselhoff.

Peter Dubens, Pipex founder and chairman, said he is looking for a single buyer for the hosting and network services businesses and will look to float the wireless division.

Mr Dubens, who also co-founded P&J Smoothies, said he could look to buy out the hosting and network services divisions through the Oakley Capital Private Equity vehicle, in which he is a partner. As a result, Pipex has established an independent committee excluding Mr Dubens to consider any offers.

Pipex said that the prospects of its hosting division – the second largest in Europe, with 2 million domain names – and its network services unit are "robust", while the wimax business has a "major" long-term growth opportunity.

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