The Swedish private equity company EQT has withdrawn its bid for Vocus Group. The move came after Vocus opened its books to the potential buyer as part of the due diligence process.
Vocus Group is the parent company of Vocus Communications, best known in New Zealand for its Callplus, Slingshot and Orcon brands.
A report in the Australian Financial Review suggests EQT turned down the deal after learning of the enormity of the turnaround task facing a buyer. Vocus has faced difficulties since its awkward merger with M2 in 2016.
Elsewhere Australian newspapers speculate another buyer may be waiting in the wings. One name mentioned is AGL Energy, a power company.
The AFR also mentioned Brookfield, the Canadian infrastructure investment company which partnered with Infratil to buy Vodafone’s New Zealand business. A Brookfield Vocus acquisition is likely to raise issues with the Commerce Commission.
There is nothing concrete from either potential buyer at the time of writing.
Vocus chief executive told Australian newspapers after EQT’s decision was made public that the company is not for sale.
EQT is not the first buyer to pass on a Vocus acquisition at a late stage. In 2017 two US-based private equity companies, KKR and Affinity both withdrew bids at the due diligence stage.