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Private equity firm makes $2.1B bid for Vocus

Private equity firm makes $2.1B bid for Vocus

US-based private equity firm tables buyout proposal.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR) has revealed plans to acquire Vocus Group, with the US-based private equity firm tabling a $2.1 billion buyout proposal.

Revealed via a statement to the ASX, terms of the proposal would see KKR acquire 100 per cent of shares in the telco giant, at a price of $3.50 per share.

Subject to several conditions, the deal will be determined following a round of due diligence, alongside the availability of financing and an unanimous recommendation from the Vocus board.

Should a deal go through however, KKR will own the ASX-listed telco alongside its portfolio of acquisitions, including M2 Group, Amcom and Nextgen Networks.

Vocus also acquired New Zealand telco network company FX Networks for NZ$115.8 million in 2014.

Following the proposal, the Vocus board of directors has formed an Independent Board Committee (IBC) to review and assess the proposal, which will be chaired by David Spence, the independent chair of Vocus.

“The Vocus board notes that there is no certainty the indicative proposal will result in an offer for Vocus, what the terms of any offer would be, or whether there will be a recommendation by the Vocus board,” an ASX statement read.

“The Vocus board remains fully committed to acting in the best interests of, and maximising value for, Vocus shareholders.”

Based in New York, USA, KKR is a multi-national private equity firm specialising in leveraged buyouts, completing over US$400 billion of private equity transactions since its inception in 1976.

Within the past 12 months, the business has upped its technology investments through the acquisition of American software company Epicor Software in September 2016, alongside a $250 million investment into OVH in October 2016.

The proposal comes a matter of months after Vocus sold off its multimillion-dollar stake in Macquarie Telecom (ASX:MAQ), via a block trade to a “broad range of new institutional and retail shareholders”.

The entire haul of more than 3.35 million Macquarie Telecom shares was sold on 27 March at $12.20 each, equating to just under $41 million in total, and representing 16 per cent of Macquarie’s issued share capital.

On 22 February, ARN reported that Vocus Group recorded "thriving half yearly figures", with a revenue up 403 per cent and more than doubling its profit to $47 million for the six months ending 31 December 2016.

During 1H FY17 - which also saw the exit of former Vocus founder, James Spenceley, and Amcom co-founder, Tony Grist - Vocus posted a net profit after tax of $47.2 million and revenue of $888.2 million.

However, on 3 May, Vocus Group wiped $100 million off its revenue target for the financial year ending 2017, blaming the forecast downgrade on lower than expected billings in its enterprise and wholesale business, and re-jigged terms on a number of large projects.

Vocus has appointed Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs as its financial advisors and Allens as its legal advisor.

At the time of writing, Vocus shares were trading at $2.86.


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