AGL puts forward offer for Vocus

Offer put forward by Australian energy provider is 40 cents lower than EQT's dumped proposal price.

Australian energy provider AGL has submitted an offer for telecommunications provider Vocus at AU$4.85 a share.

AGL said last month it had previously been unable to agree to due diligence terms with Vocus.

The new proposal follows EQT Infrastructure walking away from a AU$5.25 proposal after conducting due diligence.

"After last week's announcement that discussions with EQT Infrastructure had ceased, AGL returned with a non-binding and indicative proposal to acquire Vocus for AU$4.85 per share. There is a clear market opportunity for Vocus, which is generating significant interest in our business and our assets," Vocus managing director and CEO Kevin Russell said.

"We are focused on executing our turnaround strategy and delivering the opportunity in front of us. However, we have been clear that the board will always act in the best interests of our shareholders to engage with credible parties that bring forward proposals that are worthy of further consideration."

Vocus has granted AGL exclusive due diligence access for four weeks.

For its part, AGL said its interest in Vocus will help it "meet the needs of increasingly connected customers as energy and data value streams converge and the traditional energy sector transforms". In short, it wants to offer enterprise customers energy and data bundles.

AGL said if it were to pick up Vocus, it would have a positive impact on its earnings within the first year.

In its half-year results announced in February, Vocus reported revenue as being up 1% to AU$974 million, while underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) was down 10% to AU$171 million, and statutory earnings before interest and tax was down a third to AU$50 million.

The worst performing group was its business division, which saw revenue drop 27% and EBITDA fall 30%, followed by its consumer division which experienced a 12% revenue drop and a 5% EBITDA fall. Headed in the other direction were its network and services and New Zealand groups, which reported a 27% jump in revenue and 5% revenue boost, respectively, as well as increases in EBITDA of 3% and 11%.

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