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Pipex Communications (FFG)

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Thursday 23 March, 2006

Pipex Communications

Acquisition of Homecall

Pipex Communications PLC
23 March 2006

23 March 2006



                            PIPEX Communications plc

                            Acquisition of Homecall


•      Acquisition of one of UK's largest residential voice businesses

•      Strengthens position in broadband, voice and line rental

•      Takes PIPEX above 1,000,000 customers

•      Leverages infrastructure investments and local loop unbundling strategy


PIPEX Communications plc, the broadband, hosting and telecoms network operator,
is pleased to announce the acquisition of Caudwell Communications Limited,
trading as Homecall, for an undisclosed sum, including the assumption of bank
debt of approximately £43 million, which has now been repaid by PIPEX.


About Homecall


Homecall is one of the UK's leading providers of voice, line rental, and
broadband services.  Homecall currently has over 500,000 customers of which in
excess of 350,000 take more than one service.


The last set of audited results for the year ended 31 December 2004, showed
turnover of £91.4 million and a loss before tax of £34.7 million.  The losses
were principally incurred by a significant and successful customer acquisition
programme.  Homecall is now trading profitably at the profit before tax level.


Financial Impact


Currently, the acquisition is anticipated to improve PIPEX's EBITDA by
approximately £2 million in 2006 and approximately £5 million in 2007.  It is
not expected to have a significant impact on current capex forecasts for 2006
and 2007 and is expected to improve free cash flow after interest for 2007 by
approximately £4 million.  There will be additional synergies which may provide
further upside.


Rationale for acquisition


PIPEX's stated strategy has been to develop an integrated portfolio of voice and
broadband services.  The acquisition fits well with this strategy, with over
350,000 Homecall customers buying more than one service.  The value of this
strategy is demonstrated by increased average revenue per customer and a
considerable improvement in customer retention.  Where a customer purchases
carrier pre-select ('CPS'), wholesale line rental ('WLR') and broadband services
the average customer life-cycle is extended by 44 months beyond that of a
single-service voice subscriber.


In addition, there are a number of further benefits:


•  The acquisition brings with it complementary sales channels to PIPEX's
   web based approach: a high street distribution presence selling through the
   Phones4u retail chain of 363 outlets and a large outbound telesales team;

•  The acquisition should provide significant cross-selling opportunities
   for Homecall's voice products and PIPEX's broadband and hosting services.  As 
   a combined entity, the Group will now have over 29% of its broadband base 
   buying other services, up from 2% a year ago;

•  The acquisition increases the density of customers around a number of
   exchanges which PIPEX is currently unbundling, and is expected to both 
   improve margins and enhance the payback period on the investment made in 
   unbundling these exchanges;

•  The acquisition adds significant scale, increasing the total PIPEX
   customer base to over 1 million customers across broadband, CPS, WLR and
   hosting.


Chairman of PIPEX, Peter Dubens, commented:


"This acquisition brings with it four very important elements: additional scale,
high street and call centre sales channels, accelerated returns on our LLU
strategy and significant cross-selling opportunities.


"In terms of scale, we will now have over 1 million customers in the UK across
broadband, voice and hosting, further consolidating our position as a major
player in the broadband market.  PIPEX traditionally sells over the internet and
the acquisition brings significant call centre sales expertise and importantly
access to high-street footfall through a distribution agreement with Phones4u.
We can use these distribution channels not only to drive new business but also
cross-sell our hosting and broadband services, a model that should generate
financial benefits as well as significantly increase customer retention.  As a
result, we expect the financial effects to be immediately beneficial to PIPEX's
shareholders.


"Finally, PIPEX is a growth company and there should be significant
opportunities for the management and employees of Caudwell to drive the combined
business forward.  We look forward to working with them."

                                     -ends-

PIPEX Communications plc                                           020 7766 6909

Peter Dubens, Chairman


Financial Dynamics                                                 020 7831 3113

Juliet Clarke / Edward Bridges / Hannah Sloane


Notes to Editors


Carrier Pre-Select ("CPS") is a regulated way for alternative telecom operators
to bypass incumbent operators such as BT and offer competitively priced voice
calls from fixed lines.

Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) is an Ofcom regulated product which enables BT's
competitors to offer customers a single bill for both line rental and calls. WLR
is significant to broadband service providers, as it enables them to provide a
seamless service to customers who would otherwise still get a bill from BT for
rental of the line carrying the DSL, which is seen by BT's competitors as
placing them at a substantial brand and marketing disadvantage.


                      This information is provided by RNS
            The company news service from the London Stock Exchange

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