The offer is the latest in a string of acquisition prospects for Vocus in recent years, with previous offers from EQT and AGL falling through
Vocus has announced to the Australian Securities Exchange that it has received an indicative offer of A$3.4 billion from Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA), ending recent media speculation surrounding a potential deal.
The offer is valued at A$5.50-per-share, around a 20% premium on the share value at the close of trading on Friday, which saw the shares valued at A$4.38.
"After consideration by the board and its advisers, the board has concluded that it is in the best interests of Vocus shareholders to explore the potential for a transaction with MIRA, and has granted MIRA due diligence access to enable MIRA to potentially put forward a binding proposal," said Vocus in a statement.
Vocus is the second-largest fibre operator in Australia, with a network spanning around 30,000km across major cities. It has been the subject of large scale acquisition ambitions for some years now. In 2017, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Affinity Partners both made offers of around A$2.2 billion for the company but did not follow through. More recently, in summer last year, both both energy company AGL and private equity group EQT made similar offers before also failing to follow up.
The new bid from MIRA is substantially larger than previous bids, in a large part due to Vocus’ improved market position. Chief executive Kevin Russell said in August that Vocus had gained market share and seen revenue grow significantly, with the company nearing the end of a three-year strategic plan to turn its finances around.
Vocus is also planning to spin off its New Zealand business with an IPO, which it announced in November and expects to complete before the end of the 2020–21 financial year.
Macquarie, meanwhile, already has significant telecoms infrastructure assets under its wing, including Axicom, and is part of an ongoing deal to buy Italy’s Open Fiber.
Also in the news: