Disney Enters The Wonderful World Of eisa

Australian ISP eisa (EIS) moved closer to cementing its AUS$350 million (US$209 million) take over of OzEmail’s retail business Thursday, announcing a flurry of alliances and equity partnerships.

High on eisa’s list, exclusive negotiations with U.S. content giant Walt Disney Inc. (DIS).

In a release to the Australian Stock Exchange, eisa said no definite agreement has yet been reached. However, reports indicate Disney could take up to 15 percent of eisa. If the negotiations are successful, eisa could receive exclusive rights to a number of Internet properties within Disney’s Go Network for Australia and New Zealand.

Included in the announcements Thursday, eisa said it has secured AUS$180 million from three Australian companies as part of the AUS$350 million needed to purchase OzEmail from MCI Worldcom subsidiary UUNet.

Australian investment company Hastings Fund Management will pay AUS$100 million in eisa shares, in its first big Internet play. The ANZ Bank (ANZ) will invest AUS$40 million. One of Australia’s largest media groups John Fairfax Ltd. (FXJ) announced it had invested AUS$40 million for a 5 percent stake (20 million shares) in eisa during Thursday trade.

“The acquisition of OzEmail Internet has presented itself as a unique opportunity for eisa to establish key strategic alliances with major Australian and overseas corporations. These strategic alliances will assist eisa to position itself to become a clear leader in Australia, with a solid base for fast expansion into Asia,” said eisa CEO Damien Brady.

eisa is expected to raise the remaining AUS$170 million needed complete the purchase via an equity raising conducted by Australian stockbrokers Hartley Pynton (HPL).

With rich content, strong strategic partners and a healthy subscriber base, many are touting eisa as Australia’s AOL. It could be a while until it can claim that title, but if the Disney negotiations prove fruitful, eisa is definitely a contender.

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