COMMENT: Back on the 5th of February ChannelNews posted a story indicating that Primus Telecom was up for sales. Our sources were impeccable.
Back on the 5th of February ChannelNews posted a story indicating that Primus Telecom was up for sales. Our sources were impeccable.
Now two months later 100% of Primus Telecom has been sold to M2 Telecommunications Group for $192 Million dollars.
A few hours after my story appeared I received an email from a Mr John Horan who claimed that he was General Counsel for Primus Telecom Australia, he said that the story was misleading and a completely fabricated news report.
He went on to say that if this news report is not immediately retracted he will instruct his external legal providers to take appropriate legal steps to address this matter.
He said “Accordingly, Primus Telecom puts you on notice that it will reserve its right to pursue legal proceedings for recovery of loss and to seek pecuniary damages in the jurisdictions where it principally operates, including the legal jurisdictions of Australia, the United States of America and Canada”.
Despite it being a Sunday I contacted Horan who said during the telephone conversation that he was acting on the instructions of the iPrimus CEO and that there “was no pending sale of iPrimus”.
When I put it to him that Primus Telecom was for sale and that the Company was in discussions with two possible buyers he said “pure fantasy”.
He said that he had spoken to the CEO of Primus Telecom Australia Tom Mazerski and that he was angry about the story and “wanted it taken down”.
We refused but we did publish a denial at the time based on the information that Horan had communicated to ChannelNews.
Specialist small business telco M2 has described the purchase of Primus Australia from its American parents for $192.4 million as a ”match made in heaven” they said the deal has been under negotiations for about five months according to M2 chief executive Geoff Horth.
Horth said Primus Australia had been at the top of his shopping list since mid-2011 and he leapt at the chance to start negotiations when PTGi announced it was thinking of selling assets last year.
Shortly after the denial story appeared Horan wrote “I am not a spokesman for the company. That said, I don’t believe you have taken appropriate steps and I believe the explicit reference to “damages” in your report is of itself damaging.
I request you remove the link for now and if you want commentary on Primus I can ask our CEO to speak with you. Otherwise you don’t really leave me any option but to instruct our lawyers in the morning”.
Both Horan and Mazerski knew that negotiations were taking place in Australia to try and sell the Company.
Horan said “We have no knowledge of a sale or a pending sale of Primus Telecom. I have spoken to the CEO and he is adamant”
The fact that a media organisation had broken the story about a possible sale was an irritant as the Company was also negotiating other business contracts at the time.
What I suspect they were concerned about was that if partner organisations suddenly became aware that the Company was facing being sold there was the real possibility that they would not partner with iPrimus.
The Horan email to 4Square Media was out and out legal bullying, a case of “bugger the truth” legal might and intimidation of a media outlet takes precedence over facts.
Or was it a case of “I am paid to plead and plead I will despite the fact that the Company was up for sale.
At one stage Horan said “It’s of no business of yours whether we are or are not negotiating a sale. As far as I am concerned your story is a complete fabrication”.
The fact that Horan did not follow through with his threats to bring in his external legal team to take action against 4Square Media also raises questions as to whether his email was genuine.
As a lawyer Horan has an obligation to only deal in the truth despite the fact that our story which proved to be right was potentially damaging to the Company.
At the time we checked the story with two reliable sources, both said that Primus was looking for a buyer.
Calls to the Company on the Friday prior to writing the story were not returned.