ICANN wants more information about ownership and debt.
ICANN has asked (pdf) Public Interest Registry (PIR), which manages .org, for more information about its proposed acquisition by Ethos Capital.
PIR has responded to one of the requests by updating its Public Interest Commitments.
But ICANN included two other key concerns in an April 3 letter it sent to PIR. It’s unclear if PIR has responded to these. The information would probably be deemed confidential and not be published. However, ICANN’s request notes that is has requested some of the information previously and not received a response. It’s asking PIR to answer each question individually.
The questions cover two items: who will actually own PIR and how it will pay off the $360 million loan it will be saddled with post-acquisition.
On the ownership issue, ICANN wants to understand who is actually behind the myriad of entities involved in the transaction. It might be curious if former CEO Fadi Chehade will have an ownership position.
On the debt side, it seems that ICANN wants to make sure PIR doesn’t go belly up under the weight of the debt. I think PIR will be fine, or at least its investors will. With the ability to raise prices 10% a year for the first eight years and unlimited after that, it will be printing money.
That said, financial troubles could lead to a takeover handled by courts, potentially restricting ICANN’s role in the process. ICANN’s registry contract with PIR for .org says ICANN can terminate the contract if the registry goes into bankruptcy. But it probably doesn’t want to test how this would work in practice.