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Interpath Buys Into Oz Property

While it's an axiom there are no boundaries on the Internet, Interpath has taken the rule to the extreme with its acquisition of Australia-based Alta Internet Business Centres.

Interpath, with headquarters and the bulk of its customer base in North Carolina, isn't an ASP with designs on empire building, however. Alta's acquisition is the direct result of Bain Capital, Interpath's majority stockholder, research in the ASP market.

The investment firm was surveying the ASP domain looking for a company ripe for acquisition. While the company eventually went with Interpath (see related ASPnews.com story, Interpath spins off with $100m, May 5, 2000), it kept its eyes on the company in the land of Oz. Due diligence suggested the companies were very similar.

Joel Schleicher, Interpath chairman and chief executive officer, agrees with that suggestion and maintains both companies have similar strategies, similar outlooks, similar styles.

"We see great synergies for the two companies," Schleicher said. "Alta's service offering complements Interpath's and will enable our organization to continue to provide best-of-class applications and services on a global basis. This acquisition is a true win-win-win scenario for Interpath, Alta and our clients around the world."

The move gives Interpath a firm ASP foothold in the Pacific Rim region, which includes Australia and budding markets in Korea and China. But according to Schleicher, both companies remain committed to building and growing its customer base domestically for the time being.

Future growth, Schleicher added, is planned for the future. The ASP market will see ten-fold market growth, he said, with 70 percent of that growth coming from the U.S. But the other 30 percent around the world is still very, very lucrative. Interpath isn't actively pursuing foreign markets, but if a similar opportunity arises in Europe or Asia, officials won't hesitate to capitalize on it.

Alta has made a name for itself in Australia hosting live Internet events, which have drawn the country's largest crowds. Its 1999 referendum virtual tally room drew more than 1.3 million page views in a 24-hour time span, beating the previous record held by Alta with its virtual tally room for the 1998 Australian Electoral Commission.

A company that can draw crowds that size is a fair prize for any company looking to spread its name. George Caravias, Alta founder and chief executive officer, said the acquisition is proof his company was headed in the right direction before it got bought out.

"The acquisition is a ringing endorsement of Alta's capabilities and business model," Caravias said. "Interpath appreciates our vision of what an ASP should be, and was impressed by our winning business model which has clearly and successfully differentiated us in an emerging and competitive market. Alta's Australian customers will benefit from the combination of a successful local capability allied to the strength, stability and global presence of a company like Interpath."

Most companies would keep that brand name public when acquiring and put in its key officers behind the scenes. Schleicher said while acquiring a company with a recognizable name in the market is normally a good practice, Interpath officials decided to go with the Interpath Australia Ltd. moniker.

"Any time your have brand recognition you want to keep it, but we believe our core growth is going to be through the Interpath name," Schleicher said.



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