Pact values venture at $60 mil

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Cinema and property giant Force Corp. is poised to merge with leading local ISP Ihug in a deal which values the Internet service provider at more than $60 million.

The new company will be named Ihug and will begin trading from April 1, subject to approval from Force shareholders.

Barely five years old, Ihug (for Internet Home Users Group) has been the most meteorically successful ISP, with 100,000 subscribers in New Zealand and Australia.

It has recently branched out into providing cut-rate long-distance telephone service and digital pay TV.

Force, a partner with Australia’s Village in ownership of more than half of the country’s cinemas, also runs screens in Fiji and Argentina.

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