10 May 2019

Vodafone NZ may be sold to private investors

10:50 am on 10 May 2019

Vodafone New Zealand may be sold to private investment firms rather than through a share float.

Logo of Vodafone.

Infratil has confirmed it is in talks to buy the local operations of Vodafone. Photo: 123RF

New Zealand infrastructure investor Infratil has confirmed it is in talks to buy the local operations of Vodafone.

The Australian Financial Review reported that Infratil was partnering with Canadian based investment firm Brookfield Asset Management to buy Vodafone NZ for about $2.5 billion.

Vodafone's British parent is said to be in advanced talks with the pair on a possible deal.

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.

In a statement to the stock exchange Infratil said discussions with Vodafone and financiers were "ongoing and incomplete, and may not result in a transaction occurring".

Vodafone has been looking to sell its 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.

It 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.

It tried to merge the business with Sky TV, but the Commerce Commission knocked back the deal in 2017 because of competition concerns.