Stake in Pacific Lightnet up for sale
An investment bank is seeking an investor to replace Tomen Corp.
Pacific LightNet Communications Inc., a Honolulu-based telecommunications firm whose assets include a fiber-optic system linking the six major Hawaiian islands, is seeking an investor to acquire a stake in the company, the company's chairman and chief executive said yesterday.
Although he did not say how much money the company is trying to raise, or how big a stake was on the auction block, John Warta, PLNI's chairman, CEO and co-owner, confirmed PLNI has retained an investment bank that is seeking to sell an interest in the company.
Warta's comments appear to dispel rumors, which have circulated in the Honolulu business community for months, that PLNI was for sale entirely. Actually, Warta said, he is seeking an investor to acquire only the stake in PLNI that was previously owned by his partner, Tomen Corp., a Japanese trading company.
At the end of March, Tomen was bought by Toyota Tsusho Corp., a Toyota Motor Corp. affiliate that buys and sells materials related to the auto industry. Warta said that Tomen had always anticipated exiting PLNI when the Toyota Tsusho acquisition took place, but Warta said he doesn't want to sell his stake in PLNI.
"While Tomen wants to leave PLNI because of their new ownership by Toyota, I have no interest in exiting the business," Warta wrote in an e-mail message. "We have an excellent management team, our revenue continues to grow, and we have had positive cash flow for five years now.
"We have not taken a cent from Tomen since we took over the company five years ago," he added.
One of Hawaii's largest independent telecommunications firms, PLNI offers an array of services for residential and business customers.
The company's Hawaii Online division is one of the state's oldest Internet service providers. PLNI's 808NetFone offers residential digital telephone service for as little as $12.95 per month for unlimited local calls.
The company also provides an array of wholesale services for telecommunications firms.
The company has an extensive network of land-based and undersea fiber optic lines linking Hawaii's major islands.
Last year, PLNI hired a regional investment bank to market Tomen's ownership interest in PLNI, Warta said. PLNI also has had discussions with investors "who can help us grow faster with new products and services," Warta said.
Altogether, Warta said, the company has "been in contact with 213 strategic and financial investors" and has received "numerous proposals and expressions of interest."
Although Warta said the company has had "serious discussions with several parties," he said that a deal has not been reached.
"At this point in time, we have not accepted an offer to sell Tomen's interest or the company to anyone," he said. "We are working on selling Tomen's ownership, and again prefer local investors."