OLD Media Moves

The Google deal that didn’t actually happen

November 26, 2012

Posted by Chris Roush

Numerous business media reported that Google had acquired a Wi-Fi operator for $400 million based on a press release that both companies now say is false and wasn’t released by either company.

Amir Efrati of The Wall Street Journal writes, “Erwin Vahlsing, Jr., ICOA’s chief financial officer, said in an email that an online press release claiming Google had acquired ICOA for $400 million ‘is false.’

“In a separate email, George Strouthopoulos, ICOA’s chief executive, said the company ‘never had any discussions with any potential acquirers.’ He said ICOA will report the incident ‘to the proper authorities.’

“On Monday, a press release posted on PRWeb.com stated that Google had acquired ICOA for $400 million in order to ‘further diversify it’s already impressive portfolio of companies.’ The release listed contact information for ICOA and described ICOA’s operations. The Warwick, R.I., company operates Wi-Fi hot spots in public areas such as airports, hotels and retail businesses.

“In an interview, Mr. Vahlsing said he first heard about the false press release from a company investor who had emailed him. Soon after, he said he called the Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division to ask the agency to halt trading of ICOA’s stock.

“‘I have no idea where this press release came from, what basis it’s on, and we do not want any part of it,’ Mr. Vahlsing said, adding that ICOA doesn’t use PRWeb to put out press releases.”

Read more here.

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