Commander finally moves toward float

THE leading provider of business telephone systems to Australia’s small to medium enterprises, Commander Communications Limited, is set to list on the Australian Stock Exchange through an equity raising of $75 million, following the opening of a retail issue on October 30.

The company will issue 62.5 million shares at a retail price of $1.20. Funds will be used to retire debt and extend its existing product and service offerings.

Commander, the owner of PlesTel Pty Ltd, provides key telephone systems, PABX, Internet telephony systems, data networking services and mobile telephony to more than one million individual users around the country.

Managing director John Dougall said the Commander brand was trusted and well recognised with more than 90 per cent aided recognition in the SME market.

Mr Dougall said the company had around 45 per cent market share in the key telephone system business.

“Our aim is to become the leading integrated communications provider to SMEs in the Australian market by providing voice, data and Internet capability, and national support bundled with Telstra network services,” he said.

“The funds raised will allow us to increase our data networking capabilities, to expand into web hosting and introduce new ‘best of breed’ Internet telephony products into Australia.”

He said the company aimed to improve its level of support in rural areas through its exclusive dealer network.

“The company was established by Telstra in 1981. Two years ago, 70 per cent of the business was bought by the current shareholders and it was named PlesTel,” he said.

“Over the next few months, we plan to phase out the name PlesTel.

“We are also progressing our back office systems. In the next 12 months, our customers will be able to go on the Internet, look at where their order is and look at the status of their service call, which will give much more visibility to what we are offering them. Our previous systems couldn’t do that.

“We will move from providing telephone services to data net-working services and, in the early party of 2001, plan to offer web hosting services all under the one brand.”

Mr Dougall said research had revealed most Australian SMEs wanted one organisation for all telecommunications and ecom-merce needs.

Commander forecasts an EBITDA for the 2001 financial year of $24.9 million on revenue of $195.1 million, compared to an EBITDA for the 2000 financial year of $22.6 million on revenue of $156.7 million.

Trading of shares on the ASX is expected to start on December 1.

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