​INSIGHT: Who loses in $3 billion Vocus/M2 merger?

​INSIGHT: Who loses in $3 billion Vocus/M2 merger?

"The real losers here are TPG in Australia and Vodafone in New Zealand."

Hot on the heels of M2 Group’s $250 million acquisition of CallPlus, and Vocus Communications' $780 million purchase of Amcom, both parties are set to merge in a script deal worth $3 billion - assuming shareholders agree (which seems likely).

With revenue of $1.12 billion, M2 is the larger entity when compared against earnings of $149.8 million for Vocus last financial year, and that is reflected in the acquisition, with M2 shareholders receiving 1.65 Vocus shares for each M2 share held.

That sort of premium seems below the odds at first glance but M2 is not as asset rich as Vocus who boasts an increasingly valuable fibre network on both sides of the Tasman and a higher value brand in the business sector.

I’ll be honest, this move took me by surprise, but I can see a range of benefits for both parties.

Firstly, M2 now moves from a reseller model to having direct access to fibre in the ground in New Zealand and Australia, allowing it to compete with TPG (and others) more effectively in Australia and to capitalise on the CallPlus corporate accounts in New Zealand.

Secondly, Vocus picks up strong retail brands that will extend its market penetration and increase awareness of the Vocus brand - assuming it is somehow incorporated into the public facing brands.

In terms of economies of scale - as always, there will be some cutting of costs and this will allow them to compete more effectively on both sides of the Tasman - in Australia they are now the 4th biggest Internet Service Provider, and now 3rd in New Zealand.

Furthermore this move offsets, to a certain extent, the scale gained by TPG Internet through the acquisition of iiNet.

In fact, it’s basically a land grab, two of the last ISP’s of significant scale in Australia merging to gain enough size that any takeover attempt by another ISP would be subject to extremely close ACCC scrutiny - given its potential to curtail competitive forces in the market.

They now have a degree of security and ability to grow in a post-consolidation period without distraction.

The (potential) negatives?

After a rapid series of acquisitions and mergers, how soon can the benefits of these strategic moves be realised? Merging brands and cutting costs is not an easy process, so while this move is a smart one, it will take some time for that to be reflected in customer facing outcomes.

How big is too big? How does a challenger brand, which Vocus clearly was, handle the process of becoming a behemoth? At what point does the agility go? When does the coherent strategy vanish? (I am already seeing some signs of that).

These are good problems to have though, and won’t be making anyone involved in the merger lose sleep.

What next?

So what next for Vocus? Is 2degrees of interest in New Zealand? A mobile network would certainly cover off all the key market segments nicely, albeit only in New Zealand. Or will they continue to grow their fibre footprint through the purchase of stressed fibre carriers like CityLink in Wellington?

As for the impact on the market in general? UFB in New Zealand largely safeguards ISP’s without their own fibre footprints from the effects of these sorts of market shifts in terms of access to competitively priced tails.

The backhaul market doesn’t change much as a result of this merger either, as M2 wasn’t in that space. So for me, it is basically business as usual.


The real losers here are TPG in Australia and Vodafone in New Zealand.

TPG loses because in one merger it lost two acquisition targets. Across the Tasman, Vodafone loses because it continues to struggle with inertia and is running at a loss ($28 million loss reported last year), while an entity with strong business and residential brands, along with its own fibre footprint, has appeared on its doorstep.

On Kiwi shores, Vodafone has a number of issues it is yet to deal with, now it has one more.

By Brendan Ritchie - CEO, DTS

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags M2 groupcallplusChorusVodafoneDTSVocus CommunicationsTelstra


Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Reseller News looks back on a tumultuous 12 months for the New Zealand channel, assessing the fallout from a year of sizeable industry change. Whether it be local or global mergers and acquisitions, distribution deals or job changes, the channel that started the year differs somewhat to the one set to finish it - Reseller News assesses the key moments that made 2016.​

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016
​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

Hewlett Packard Enterprise honoured its top performing Kiwi partners at the second running of its HPE Partner Awards in New Zealand, held at a glitzy ceremony in Auckland. Recognising excellence across eight categories - from distributors to resellers - the tech giant celebrated its first year as a standalone company, following its official split from HP in 2015.

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel
Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix recently took to the seas for a Christmas Cruise around Sydney Harbour with its Australia and New Zealand staff, customers and partners to celebrate a stellar year for the vendor. With the sun out, they were all smiles and mingled over drinks and food.

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise
Show Comments