Energis buys net firm

Business telecoms company Energis has acquired Planet Online, the UK’s largest independent business-focused internet service provider (ISP).

Business telecoms company Energis has acquired Planet Online, the

UK’s largest independent business-focused internet service provider

(ISP).



Energis believes that this new acquisition, worth pounds 75m, will

strengthen its position as a leading carrier of internet traffic and

will extend its range of business-data services.



As a network operator, Energis already carries 40% of national internet

access traffic.



The Energis-Planet Online deal is just one of several in recent months

between telephone companies and ISPs, suggesting that convergence

between the two is accelerating.



Last month, Cable & Wireless Communications acquired MCI’s internet arm,

while Scottish Power’s Scottish Telecoms subsidiary bought Demon

Internet.



Analysts are expecting further consolidation in the industry.



’This is an important further step in Energis’ development. Planet adds

leading-edge internet and intranet products, together with a significant

and rapidly growing customer base.



’By acquiring Planet Online, we pole-position Energis in the

fastest-growing sector of the business telecoms marketplace,’ said Mike

Grabiner, chief executive of Energis.



Planet Online was formed in July 1995 and offers internet connectivity,

web hosting and other internet and intranet-based services to business

customers, which include Airtours, Barclays Bank, Emap and the National

Lottery.



Energis, which built its national network primarily along the National

Grid’s electricity pylon infrastructure, is expected to make its first

profit next year.



The business telecoms market, of which it has a 2% share, is predicted

to rise from its present pounds 8bn to pounds 15bn in 2005.



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