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EQNet buys rival ISP, plans share sale

EQNet Zrt, a privately owned Hungarian internet provider, is buying rivals before selling shares to the public in coming years to take advantage of growth in its underdeveloped domestic market, Bloomberg reported.

The company bought the retail business of the Hungarian unit of Inter.Net Global Ltd, CEO Tamás Graur said at a press conference in Budapest today. That purchase alone will more than double revenue to Ft 600 million next year from this year's Ft 250 million, EQNet said.
The company said it paid several hundred million forints for the business and used money from its own funds. It is now looking for more acquisition targets, Graur said. EQNet needs to reach Ft 2 billion revenue by 2010 before it can go ahead with an initial public offering, Chairman Lajos Fogoly said at the press conference. The company, which previously focused on corporate clients, is looking to absorb its smallest rivals in Hungary, Graur said.
EQNet also bought internet service contracts from Meditcom Kft yesterday, it said.




While internet cafes and wireless networks are ubiquitous in Budapest, Hungary's internet market is less developed overall than in the rest of the European Union. The proportion of households with access is about half that of the EU average.
“This is the segment where the real growth opportunity is,” Graur said. “We had enough of treading water on the internet market. The market is small and can't support all the providers there are now, so consolidation is inevitable.”