Business

Vodafone NZ sold to private investors for $3.4b

Infrastructure investor Infratil is teaming up with a Canadian investment firm to buy the local operations of Vodafone for $3.4 billion.

Vodafone's British parent confirmed today that a consortium of Infratil, and Brookfield Asset Management will purchase the company.

Vodafone Group chief executive Nick Read said the sale was part of its plan to reduce debt and it would have an arrangement with Vodafone NZ for it to continue to use its services.

"We have always been proud of our Vodafone New Zealand business, which has a great team, and we look forward to a continued close relationship through our Partner Market agreement."

The prospect of a sale came up on Friday when Infratil confirmed talks were taking place and the company entered a trading halt on the New Zealand Stock Exchange.

An announcement was expected, with the trading halt due to lift this morning.

Infratil is well known for its involvement in infrastructure investments, having been involved in buying the New Zealand assets of Shell Oil in conjunction with the Superannuation Fund, which was later sold off as Z Energy.

Brookfield has been involved in construction in this country and used to have a stake gas and electricity network company Powerco.

Vodafone's New Zealand business has been on the sales block for some time after the Commerce Commission refused to let it merge with Sky TV in 2017.

It had previously talked about selling the New Zealand unit through a share float and has been restructuring and axing hundreds of jobs to get the business in shape for a sale.

Vodafone is the biggest mobile operator in the country, and also sells fixed line, broadband and television services. It made a profit of $39 million for the year ended March 2018, down 16 percent on the year before, with income of more than $2bn.

The sale is expected to be completed in Vodafone's 2020 financial year.

Vodafone NZ has about two million mobile customers, compared to about 700 million for parent Vodafone Group. 

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