Australia’s Vocus Group has agreed to a AUD3.5 billion (USD2.68 billion) takeover offer from a consortium comprising Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA) and pension fund Aware Super. The announcement comes one month after MIRA first approached Vocus with an indicative and non-binding proposal at a price of AUD5.50 per share. Aware Super subsequently joined the consortium a few weeks later. Vocus’ board has unanimously recommended that shareholders vote in favour of the acquisition unless a superior offer is made. Shareholders will be given the opportunity to vote on the deal at a meeting in June and the transaction is expected to close by July.
In an announcement to the ASX, Vocus chairman Bob Mansfield said: ‘The Vocus board is unanimous in our view that this offer is in the best interests of Vocus shareholders. In making this assessment, the board considered a range of alternatives, including the execution of our existing strategy under which the proceeds of an IPO of Vocus New Zealand would reduce debt and be invested in our core business. Feedback from shareholders in recent weeks on the indicative offer of AUD5.50 originally received from MIRA has been overwhelmingly positive and there is a broad recognition that this is a very fair value for Vocus shareholders.’ Vocus noted the proposed AUD5.50 per share or AUD3.5 billion acquisition price is a 25.6% premium to the share price on 5 February 2021, the last business day before MIRA submitted its proposal.
Vocus Group also said it will pause its previously announced efforts to spin off its New Zealand business. Vocus Group Managing Director and CEO Kevin Russell told the Australian Financial Review that it was ‘inappropriate’ to pursue the plans amid a takeover, and the decision would rest with the new owners, although he still believes the IPO will go ahead ‘at the right time’. ‘I expect in the second half of this year that the IPO will proceed, or the consortium will look at deploying capital into New Zealand. The goal was always to improve New Zealand’s access to capital; now we have a choice,’ he added.