Line goes quiet on Vo­cus’ of­fer for 2de­grees

The Dominion Post - - Business - TOM PULLAR-STRECKER

mock­ing the EU’s al­leged at­tempt to reg­u­late the shape of ba­nanas, and it’s hardly sur­pris­ing in ret­ro­spect that Brexit got over the line.

The re­sult, how­ever, is deep un­cer­tainty. In the short term, that means fi­nan­cial mar­ket volatil­ity; in the medium term it means de­ci­sions of every kind – from buy­ing a house in Bri­tain to in­vest­ing in new jobs – be­ing delayed.

Deep un­cer­tainty is, for the most part, paralysing, and the tal­ent of cur­rent Euro­pean po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship will be sorely tested. Yet, from this dis­tance, you have to ask: How much does it re­ally mat­ter?

What’s the bet that in a cou­ple of months’ time, the only peo­ple who care – re­ally care – about Brexit any­more are the Poms?

Sure, it will be in­ter­est­ing for the rest of us and there will be on­go­ing fas­ci­na­tion with who will be the United King­dom’s next prime min­is­ter, when will their next gen­eral elec­tion be, and whether the Brexit vote will have any im­pact on the United States pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

US polling has shown a sharp swing away from Don­ald Trump in the last few days, sug­gest­ing the mes­sage to Amer­i­can vot­ers from Brexit is ‘‘Be care­ful what you wish for’’ rather than ‘‘Viva la Revolu­cion’’.

In Aus­tralia, the Lib­eral coali­tion of Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turnbull is look­ing a lit­tle safer ahead of Satur­day’s fed­eral elec­tion.

Con­ven­tional wis­dom sug­gests there’s a devil-you-know el­e­ment at play. For those of us on the side­line, the big­gest ques­tion may be: How long will that last? A possible takeover of 2de­grees by New Zealand’s third-largest fixed­line phone and broad­band provider, Vo­cus Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, ap­pears to be off the ta­ble for now.

Vo­cus’ man­age­ment is un­der­stood to have dis­cussed mak­ing an of­fer for 2de­grees over the past few months.

But the Aus­tralian-based com­pany has in­stead an­nounced the A$807 mil­lion (NZ$847m) ac­qui­si­tion of Aus­tralian fi­bre-op­tic net­work com­pany Nextgen Net­works and two other Aus­tralian firms.

Vo­cus, which is val­ued on the Aus­tralian stock ex­change at $4.5b, will fund the pur­chases through a cap­i­tal rais­ing and has suspended trad­ing in its shares un­til Mon­day.

Vo­cus be­came a ma­jor player in the New Zealand telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions mar­ket fol­low­ing its ac­qui­si­tion of M2, which had bought Cal­lPlus’ busi­ness for $250m in April 2015.

Last year it ac­counted for about 15 per cent of the New Zealand broad­band mar­ket, with 220,000 cus­tomers, ac­cord­ing to an an­nual re­port pub­lished by the Com­merce Com­mis­sion.

A source said the com­pany’s top brass had dif­fer­ing views on the mer­its of mak­ing a bid for 2de­grees, which is ma­jor­ity-owned by United States in­vest­ment firm Tril­ogy In­ter­na­tional Part­ners.

Vo­cus’ New Zealand man­agers, who joined the firm as a re­sult of the M2 merger, were keen on rec­om­mend­ing an of­fer to Vo­cus’ board, with Vo­cus ‘‘old timers’’ op­posed, the source said. Vo­cus has been con­tacted for com­ment.

2de­grees spokesman Mat Bol­land said it would con­tinue to grow its busi­ness and was al­ways ex­plor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to raise cap­i­tal to grow faster.

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

Pro­test­ers gath­ered in Trafal­gar Square, Lon­don, on Tues­day to demon­strate against the EU ref­er­en­dum re­sult.

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