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Moves to make Newcall more attractive

Thursday 5th June 2003

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Newcall Group's cornerstone shareholder, Thailand-based Charoong Thai Wire & Public Company (CTW) and its wholly-owned subsidiary CTW Beta Company Limited (BETA), have agreed to capitalise NGL's outstanding $2.2 million debt and interest, for 45.17 million shares, raising its combined shareholding from 33% to 49.55%. The agreement is subject to the approval of NGL shareholders and the Takeover Panel.

CTW chairman, David Sun, said his company was capitalising in NGL at 5.2 cents per ordinary share, which is almost double the price currently quoted on the NZSE, because his board believed that this more accurately reflected NGL's present value and potential.

The majority of the debt was incurred in the early part of NGL's operations when it was attempting to establishing itself as a telecommunications company. After withdrawing from the telecommunications market during the fall out, the group concentrated instead on its electricity reseller, Energy Online Ltd (which was subsequently sold off to Genesis Power for $4.4 million) and Internet Service Provider, Iprolink.

In the process, NGL chairman, Jim Bracknell, stopped the group's haemorrhaging and last year for the first time led it into profit.

NGL has now firmly established itself as an IT-focused entity, with its sights firmly set on capturing, with Iprolink, the many opportunities offered by the emergence of broadband and wireless technology in New Zealand, the company says in a statement.

As a result, Iprolink is undergoing a major restructuring involving a reconfiguration of its network, hardware upgrading and renegotiation of supplier contracts.

Bracknell said NGL's broadband telecommunications model would be based on the group's already proven business processes, using the billing systems of its former telco subsidiary, Newcall Communications and Energy Online.

"We intend following closely the model we so successfully developed and implemented for Energy Online, with a wireless network provider supplying lines for data and telecommunications, which we will then on-sell as high value broadband services by Iprolink.

A second initiative comes from NGL signing heads of agreement with US-based international call centre operator, Selway Group Limited, to establish sophisticated call centres, employing up to 500 people, in country areas throughout New Zealand.

Bracknell said that while CTW had increased its stockholding in NGL, its real motive in doing so was to make NGL a more attractive prospect for a major New Zealand investor, providing an exit strategy for CTW.

"Doing so will enable us to replace CTW with a local cornerstone shareholder, which in turn will give the group greater access to the New Zealand capital market. When his happens, NGL will begin to realise its true potential for the benefit of all New Zealand shareholders," he said.

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