Uniti Wireless pursues aggressive growth after $15 million raise

28 May 2019, Written by David Simmons

Uniti Wireless pursues aggressive growth after $15 million raise

Adelaide-based telecommunications company Uniti Wireless (ASX: UWL) has raised $15 million in order to pursue an "aggressive" growth strategy.

The company raised the $15 million from a placement of 15 million new shares at $1 per share, representing a premium of 26 per cent.

The company sought to raise $10 million minimum but considering the demand the board elected to raise an extra $5 million.

Since listing Uniti has pursued growth via acquisitions, with three having been announced this year so far.

Pivit, Fone Dynamics, and Call Dynamics are the latest additions to the Uniti suite and are expected to deliver greater than 60 per cent earnings per share accretion to UWL shareholders in 2020.

Uniti chairman Graeme Barclay says the capital injection will boost the group's cash reserves and will be allocated to a program of growth across Uniti's three pillars of growth strategy: wireless, fibre and specialty telecommunications services.

"We are delighted to have successfully completed this capital raising, which provides valuable additional 'fuel' for our aggressive inorganic growth strategy," says Barclay.

"The support received from our shareholders has been outstanding."

"We are committed to maintaining the strong momentum UWL has built in recent months and we are confident in the ability of our committed team to continue growing shareholder returns."

The capital raise comes as Uniti Wireless is embroiled in a lawsuit with its former co-founder and ex-chief operating officer Sasha Baranikow.

On May 15, Baranikow lodged an application to the South Australian Federal Court alleging Uniti Wireless and its directors contravened the Fair Work Act (2009) by dismissing her unfairly.

According to court documents obtained by Business News Australia, Baranikow says she was "bullied" into altering her terms of employment, giving chief executive officer Michael Simmons the opportunity to fire her. Simmons is the former interim CEO of Vocus Group.

The dissolution of Baranikow's employment came almost immediately after Uniti Wireless listed on the ASX, a lengthy endeavour spearheaded by Baranikow and co-founder Che Metcalfe.

According to Baranikow, during the time the co-founders were preparing to transform Uniti into a listed company, director John Lindsay emailed Baranokow saying one of Simmons' shareholders was threatening to use his powers to spill the board unless her terms of employment were changed.

Baranikow, who has not yet been replaced, described this communication from Lindsay as "clumsy bullying" in her pleading to the Federal Court.

According to court documents, Baranikow accepted the changed terms of employment so as not to disrupt the IPO process.

The IPO for Uniti was completed on the 13 February 2019, and the next day Baranikow and Metcalfe lost their jobs at the very company they had built.

As alleged by Baranikow, Simmons' reasoning for terminating Baranikow's employment was that she lacked the requisite experience needed to be COO of a listed company.

Metcalfe's termination was allegedly because Simmons did not think it was "healthy" for him to remain if the new management took Uniti in a new direction.

Uniti Wireless announced the termination of the co-founders on the 15 February, with company secretary Peter Wildy saying they could not remain part of the business because of Uniti's acquisition of FuzeNet and the integration of management from FuzeNet.

Baranikow insists that this is not the reason she was terminated.

Shares in Uniti Wireless are up 5.26 per cent to $1.10 per share at 10.36am AEST.

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Business News Australia

Author: David Simmons





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