Vocus set to IPO New Zealand arm

Telco once again starts process of being without its New Zealand business.

Two and half years after it last gave up on selling its New Zealand arm, Vocus announced on Thursday it would be looking to IPO the business before the end of its 2021 fiscal year.

"The board considers that a successful IPO of Vocus New Zealand will provide greater balance sheet flexibility to the Vocus Group allowing Vocus Network Services to invest in core long-term strategic fibre opportunities to extend its network reach, build on its product capabilities, and cement its position as Australia's specialist fibre and network solutions provider," the company said in a statement.

"The board considers that there are now significant opportunities for organic growth and market consolidation across all market segments that will be better realised if Vocus New Zealand is an independent entity."

Vocus said it would have more details at its half-yearly results in February.

In its latest full-year results to June 30, Vocus reported a 6% drop in revenue to AU$1.78 billion as statutory earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) increased 3.5% to AU$361 million.

However, almost AU$280 million in significant items turned AU$101 million in underlying profit into a AU$178 million statutory loss.

For its New Zealand arm, revenue was up 5% to NZ$399 million, and underlying EBITDA was up 4% to NZ$65.4 million. It was the unit's fifth year of earnings growth.

Net debt for the company fell from just shy of AU$1.1 billion in the first half of 2019 to AU$980 million at the end of the year.

In October 2017, Vocus said it would sell off its NZ business, but after receiving multiple offers, the company said in the following April that none of the offers "appropriately reflected the fundamental and strategic value".

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