One.Tel founder settles A$132m suit
Jodee Rich, the former Australian corporate high-flyer and co-founder of failed mobile operator One.Tel, has settled legal action regarding the company's 2001 collapse.
Rich has withdrawn his claim after resolving all outstanding disputes with PBL chairman and former One.Tel director James Packer.
But the defendants, as well as other former One.Tel associates, still face court action from One.Tel's liquidator.
The mobile and long-distance telco, a partnership between Rich and the family companies of media tycoons Kerry Packer and Rupert Murdoch, collapsed spectacularly in 2001.
It was the second corporate failure for Rich, whose IT retailer, Imagineering, sank in controversial circumstances in 1990.
Rich has claimed that PBL and Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited failure to underwrite One.Tel's planned A$132 million ($124.7m) rights issue in early 2001 was the nail in the coffin.
The defendants had claimed that they withdrew support for the placement after discovering Rich had misled over the financial state of the operator, and argued that the funds would not have been enough to allow One.Tel to recover from its debt burden.
Although NSW's Supreme Court found that One.Tel was likely to have survived if the rights issue proceeded, Rich indicated he was concerned at the length of a possible court action.
In a statement sent to the Australian, Rich said that it had been nearly ten years since One.Tel entered administration, and that it was time to draw “a line in the sand.”
One.Tel was established in 1995 as a GSM mobile, fixed long-distance voice and internet provider.
It had around 250,000 mobile customers at the time of its collapse, but had also racked up an estimated A$1 billion in debt.