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Telecom wins box seat for chunk of UFB

Telecom wins box seat for chunk of UFB; Enabled Networks and Flute JV flagged for South Island

By Jason Krupp

Dec. 13 (BusinessDesk) - Crown Fibre Holdings has earmarked Telecom Corp., Enabled Networks and Flute Joint Venture as prioritised bidders for the remaining $1.15 billion rollout of government's ultrafast broadband initiative.

Telecom is the frontrunner for 25 regions, including the all-important Auckland market after earlier missing out on the first round of prioritised bids. The country’s biggest phone company offered a number of variations in its bid to tap the government funds, and will expect some regulatory relief as part of any successful deal. If Telecom eventually wins the tender, which is still to be finalised, it will have to win shareholder approval to carve out the Chorus network unit into a separate entity

Enabled Networks will likely cover Christchurch and Rangiora, while Flute JV represented by Aurora Energy Ltd. will cover Dunedin. Northland and Central North Island areas were already awarded to Ultrafast Fibre Ltd. and Northpower Ltd. last week. Alpine Energy Ltd. has also been selected as a prioritised bidder for Timaru, however government is still waiting for a binding offer from the company.

"These three parties have provided attractive proposals to Crown Fibre Holdings, including a combination of access prices in line with those announced last week, the ability to complete the UFB build within the Government’s allocated budget, as well as having industry experience and financial strength,” CFH chairman Simon Allen said in a statement.

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CFH said negotiations with the three prioritised bidders will start today, but left the door open for discussions with bidders previously shortlisted. These include Central Fibre Consortium, City Link Ltd., Electra Ltd., Electricity Ashburton, Flute JV for Queenstown and Invercargill, Network Tasman Ltd., Network Waitaki Ltd., Vector Ltd., and Westpower Ltd.

It added that it was also open to the parties partnering in their candidate areas if it delivered greater infrastructure utilisation.


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