Vocus returns to acquisition table as Macquarie makes offer

Perhaps the third time in two years is the charm as Vocus examines selling itself, again.

Vocus has informed the Australian Securities Exchange on Monday morning that it has fielded an indicative offer from Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets Holdings (MIRA), the infrastructure investment arm of the eponymous group of companies, and started to explore the deal.

MIRA is proposing to acquire the whole company for AU$5.50 a share, at close on Friday the company was trading for AU$4.38, which would put the deal in the range of AU$3.4 billion in total.

"After consideration by the board and its advisers, the board has concluded that it is in the best interests of Vocus shareholders to explore the potential for a transaction with MIRA, and has granted MIRA due diligence access to enable MIRA to potentially put forward a binding proposal," it said.

"Vocus has appointed Credit Suisse as its financial advisor and Allens as its legal advisor."

Back in the middle of 2019, Vocus had a torrid month as both EQT Infrastructure and AGL walked away from AU$5.25 and AU$4.85 per share proposals, respectively.

In its latest full-year results posted in August, almost AU$280 million in significant items turned a AU$101 million underlying profit into a AU$178 million statutory loss.

The significant items included a AU$202 million impairment to the goodwill of its retail division.

For the year to June 30, the company reported a 6% drop in revenue to AU$1.78 billion, with its recurring revenue down 1.1% to account for all but AU$25.5 million of the total and the remainder flowed from the large infrastructure line item, which was down by AU$94 million due to the completion of the Coral Sea subsea cable.

Statutory earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) increased 3.5% to AU$361 million, before the significant items came into play. Statutory EBIT dropped AU$215 million to a AU$109 million loss, thanks mainly to the impairment, and statutory net profit fell by a similar number to a AU$178 million loss.

In November, Vocus said it would look to spin out and list its New Zealand business.

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