EQT bids $2.3bn for Australia’s Vocus Group

29 May 2019 | Jason McGee-Abe

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Private equity group EQT Infrastructure has submitted a takeover bid of $2.27 billion (AUD$3.27bn) for Vocus, Australia’s fourth largest telecom operator.

Vocus confirmed on Monday that it had received a non-binding, indicative proposal from EQT Infrastructure for AUD$5.25 cash per share. The news comes after EQT said its Infrastructure IV fund signed an agreement to acquire Maltese telecommunications operator Melita from Apax Partners and Fortino Capital.

“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 Paul Budde, an independent telecoms analyst.

“(The bid) 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.”

Vocus’ board has granted EQT due diligence on a non-exclusive basis, to potentially piece together a formal bid, a process which is “likely to take a number of weeks” it said earlier this week in a stock exchange filing.

EQT’s bid is seemingly a very generous one when one considers that KKR US and Affinity Equity Partners dropped their AUD$2.2 billion bids almost two years ago after completing their due diligence into Vocus.

Vocus Group, which has a 23,000km fibre network in Australia, signed a new agreement earlier this year worth over AUD$200 million on its existing mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) deal with Australian network service provider Optus Wholesale.