Vocus to offload New Zealand business and Australian data centres

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Vocus to offload New Zealand business and Australian data centres

Vocus Communications has revealed plans to sell off its New Zealand business by June next year as it looks to shed non-core assets from its portfolio.

The company said it was currently finalising the appointment of advisors to sell the NZ business after putting assets up for review in late August.

Proceeds from the sale will go towards reducing debt, leverage ratio and provide "strategic optionality".

Vocus' NZ business operates separately to the Australian business, including overhead and related costs. Business, government and wholesale markets operate under the Vocus brand, while the two consumer brands operate as Slingshot and Orcon.

According to Vocus' FY17 financial report, the NZ business made $323 million in revenue and $57.5 million in EBITDA. Vocus also boasted 16 percent market share in Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) connections, New Zealand's national fibre broadband network equivalent to Australia's NBN.

Vocus also confirmed it had appointed advisors to sell off its Australian data centre assets. Vocus operates 20 data centres in Australia, which were valued at $160 million by Macquarie analysts in May, according to a report in the Australian Financial Review. Vocus made $46.5 million from its data centre business in FY17, down from $50 million the previous financial year.

The company said it would continue to evaluate its other non-core Australian assets for a potential sale, and that it had received further approaches for potential acquisitions since announcing the asset review in August.

Vocus' share price has fallen more than 70 percent since May last year, dropping from a peak of $9.40 each to $2.90 at the time of writing. The company was forced to write down $1.3 billion in the value of its Australian business and New Zealand business by $199 million in August following lower-than-expected performance.

Vocus is facing a class action lawsuit from disgruntled shareholders over allegedly "misleading and deceptive conduct" by overstating its guidance for FY17 while working to integrate Amcom and Nextgen Networks and to merge with M2 Group.

The company reported $1.8 billion in revenue in FY17 with $366.4 million in underlying EBITDA.

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