Dotcom firm eyes 'backdoor listing' in New Zealand

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom, who is fighting US extradition for online piracy, is seeking a "backdoor listing" of his data storage firm on New Zealand's stock market, in a deal that values it at NZ$210 million (S$228 million). -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Internet mogul Kim Dotcom, who is fighting US extradition for online piracy, is seeking a "backdoor listing" of his data storage firm on New Zealand's stock market, in a deal that values it at NZ$210 million (S$228 million). -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WELLINGTON (AFP) - Internet mogul Kim Dotcom, who is fighting US extradition for online piracy, is seeking a "backdoor listing" of his data storage firm on New Zealand's stock market, in a deal that values it at NZ$210 million (S$228 million).

Dotcom - founder of the now defunct Megaupload sites - plans to use Mega Ltd to effectively take over listed TRS Investments, both companies said Tuesday.

The arrangement, also known as a backdoor listing, is a strategy used by some businesses that may fail to meet criteria for listing on a stock exchange. The exact reasons for Mega taking this route are not clear.

TRS is acting as a shell company, a vehicle for Mega to list on the stock exchange.

Dotcom launched Mega in January last year but resigned as a director seven months later to fight extradition to the United States, which claims Megaupload netted more than US$175 million (S$ 222 million) by offering pirated copies of movies, TV shows and other content.

The deal will see TRS issue Mega 700 million shares at 30 cents each, totalling NZ$210 million. Mega's shareholders, who include his wife Mona and various business associates, will then hold approximately 99 per cent of TRS stock. TRS will then change its name to Mega.

Mega chief executive Stephen Hall said he hoped the company could be listed by the end of May.

"The rapid global growth of Mega has generated significant interest from potential investors. Listing on the New Zealand Stock Exchange will allow investors to participate in the ongoing growth of Mega," he said.

Dotcom staged a global media launch for Mega in January last year to replace Megaupload. Shares in TRS rose from 0.1 New Zealand cents to 0.8 cents after the announcement.

However, it has emerged that the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has laid 25 charges relating to market manipulation and concealing interests against Paul Choiselat, one of TRS's main shareholders.

The ASIC said issues related to ASX-listed Q Ltd, a marketing company, and messaging firm Jumbuck Entertainment, of which he was director.

Dotcom suffered a legal setback last week in his fight against extradition when New Zealand's top court ruled US authorities did not have to reveal all the evidence they have against him.

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