Austar still unhappy with share price

Australia regional pay-TV operator Austar continues to try to bump up its share price, announcing the first of six possible payments under the companyís long term incentive plan, due on March 31, will be paid in cash rather than shares.

The move follows the conclusion of Austarís share buy-back program. Under that scheme, since December 2008 Austar has bought back and cancelled 21.8 million shares at a cost of A$17 million. Since May 2008, the total has bought back over 68 million shares at a cost of just over A$72 million.

Austar CEO John Porter said: ďIt has made sense for the Company to take advantage of weakness in the market which has seen AUSTARís share price lower than what we believe to be reasonable value. While we still believe the stock to be underpriced, it is an appropriate time to end this current program and focus on cash preservation for future opportunities including potential amortisation of the first tranche of our senior debt facility in late 2011.Ē

Austarís share price closed at A$0.71 on March 24, down from a 52-week high of A$1.48 in April 2008.