Aussies buy capital fibre-optic firm

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 12:31 02/07/2014

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Fibre-optic network provider FX Networks has been acquired by Australian listed company Vocus in a deal that values Wellington-based FX at $115.8 million.

FX owns 4132 kilometres of fibre-optic cabling in the North and South Islands. Customers include 2degrees, Vodafone, Weta Digital, the Ministry of Education and the police.

Vocus said in a statement that the takeover would position Vocus as the third-largest fibre network operator in New Zealand "and the clear leader in trans-Tasman telecommunications and data centres".

"There exists an exciting opportunity in New Zealand to mirror the success we have had in Australia as the only integrated provider of fibre, internet and data centres," chief executive James Spenceley said.

"The FX acquisition adds the missing fibre piece to our existing data centre and internet investment in New Zealand," he said.

IDC Research analyst Adam Dodds said this week that a takeover would represent a consolidation of the industry and could lead to improved services from the merged firm, but would probably not discernibly affect the general public.

Vocus on Monday requested a trading halt on the Australian stock exchange, where it is valued at A$442m, after reports it was in talks to acquire FX.

Both companies provide "backhaul" for telecommunications companies and large organisations, allowing them to send traffic between cities and overseas, while Vocus also owns it own data centres.

Vocus owns its own fibre network in Australia and capacity on international cables such as the Southern Cross Cable.

Privately owned FX was founded 10 years ago. It posted a loss of $2.2m on revenues of $50.4m in 2013, when its accumulated losses stood at $8.4m and its net assets at $31.5m.

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