EQT OFFERS $2.3B FOR VOCUS
The Australian telecoms firm Vocus Group Ltd has received a $2.3 billion (A$3.3 billion) acquisition offer from Swedish private-equity firm EQT Infrastructure.
Vocus’ rapidly expanding fiber network and its 17 data centers across Australia and New Zealand are seen as prime assets in the potential deal.
Although the offer is non-binding, it however, sent Vocus shares soaring by a quarter which is over where the Telco traded in 2017 when U.S firm KKR & Co Inc and Affinity Equity Partners made an unsuccessful offer.
According to Vocus, EQT made a cash offer of A$5.25 which was a 35% premium to Friday’s closing price and A$1.1 billion bigger than KKR and Affinity’s separate but matching bids in 2017.
“It’s a great price. Vocus has been struggling a bit for the last couple of years [but] the assets that they have are definitely worthwhile,” said independent telecoms analyst Paul Budde. “[The offer] is not necessarily for the business or the customers that they have … but that infrastructure is always something that is worthwhile and they have got quite a lot of it.”
Sydney-based Vocus, Australia’s fourth-largest internet provider, fell into a downward spiral in 2017 and 2018, cutting and missing profit forecasts as its retail businesses struggled with falling profit margins and increasingly stiff competition.
“Where the retail market is still very tough, trying to fight against the big guys, that infrastructure-based commercial business seems to have a few different dynamics,” said Jason Beddow, CEO of A$5.3 billion fund manager Argo Investments Ltd and a shareholder of Vocus.
While Vocus is not giving any view on the offer, its board has allowed EQT to conduct non-exclusive due diligence in a stock exchange filing. This process is expected to take weeks and Vocus adds that a formal, binding, bid may follow.