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Investors Eye Asia Global Crossing

While Asia Global Crossing has been busy renegotiating vendor financing agreements in an effort to reduce its capital expenditure outflow for 2002, an international group of investors has been eyeing a possible bid for the Asia-Pacific telecommunications provider.

According to the Wall Street Journal, four investors -- including Carlyle Group, the Emerging Markets Partnership, Citic Pacific Ltd. and the Softbank Asia Infrastructure Fund -- are interested in paying at least $250 million for a controlling stake in the company. According to the report, the group would restructure Asia Global Crossing, possibly folding it into Citic Pacific, which controls a telecommunications network in China.

As word of a possible deal hit the markets, Asia Global Crossing Friday announced it had successfully renegotiated vendor financing agreements with both its major construction vendors, KDDI-SCS and NEC.

The two companies are building segments of Asia Global Crossing's pan-Asian East Asia Crossing subsea cable system.

The restructured deal should reduce the company's capital expenditure outflow by about $230 million this year.

"Successful renegotiation of these vendor financing agreements was integral to our restructuring process and we are extremely pleased that we have achieved this target," said Jack Scanlon, vice chairman and acting chief executive officer of Asia Global Crossing. "This allows us to retain approximately $230 million in cash this year that we were previously expecting to spend, thereby dramatically reducing the amount of outside capital we must raise to successfully restructure the company and continue operations into 2003 and beyond."

Under the original terms of its agreement with KDDI-SCS, Asia Global Crossing would have paid KDDI-SCS about $95 million in 2002. The revised deal allows Asia Global Crossing to limit that to $45 million this year.

Under the original terms of its agreement with NEC, Asia Global Crossing was scheduled to pay NEC about $240 million this year. The revised agreement spreads the payments out until 2005, allowing Asia Global Crossing to limit the principal payments to NEC this year to $80 million. That amount includes a $50 million refund by Asia Global Crossing of cash NEC had previously supplied for capacity to be activated in future periods.

Beleaguered Asia Global Crossing parent, Global Crossing Ltd. -- which declared bankruptcy in January -- is pushing to restructure its Asian unit because of an investment bid from Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., which has made a joint $750 million offer contingent on the successful restructuring of Asia Global Crossing.

Global Crossing owns a 58.9 percent stake in Asia Global Crossing. Other investors include Microsoft Corp. and Softbank Corp., both of which own 14.7 percent stakes.