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Aussie telco to sell NZ assets

Paul Brislen, Editor. 24 October 2017, 7:47 am

Vocus is to sell its New Zealand assets and is appointing and advisor to oversee the move.

The decision comes as the Australian parent company struggles with burgeoning debt (estimated at more than A$1 billion) and includes all of its New Zealand telco assets including Slingshot, Orcon, Flip, 2Talk and CallPlus brands as well as network company FX Networks. Together the company provides 13% of the retail broadband market in New Zealand and around 16% of the fibre connections. The company resells Spark's mobile service to 21,000 customers and also has an electricity business with around 9000 customers.

The combined value of the New Zealand business is said to be around A$400 million and is New Zealand's third or fourth largest telco depending on which metric is used.

Vocus bought the components of its New Zealand business in 2015 when it acquired the M2 Group in Australia. At that time, M2 had just completed the deal to buy the CallPlus Group from founders Malcolm Dick and Annette Presley and had also purchased FX Networks and another ISP, Maxnet, which sale included the company's data centre on Auckland's North Shore.

According to NBR, Malcolm Dick has said he's too busy with other projects to consider buying back his old company. Dick is heavily involved in the Hawaiki submarine cable project and domestically in the wireless-ISP space.

Other potential buyers include Spark and Vodafone, although both would most likely require Commerce Commission clearance for such a purchase. Voyager has also expressed a willingness to look the company over.

Of course, the company would make a juicy target for New Zealand's third placed mobile operator, 2Degrees, which was rumoured to be taking a close look at M2 prior to Vocus's purchase. While 2Degrees has made huge inroads into the mobile business, its forays into fixed line have been on a much smaller scale, following its purchase of Christchurch-based ISP Snap in 2015.

There is no word yet on whether the group will be sold as a single unit or broken up, but Vocus hopes to complete the sale process by mid 2018.


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