Datacom sells contact centre to US firm

850-strong Asian contact centre business sold to Convergys

Datacom has sold its 850-strong Asian contact centre business, based in Malaysia and the Philippines, to United States firm Convergys for an undisclosed sum.

The deal will reduce the worldwide staff of the privately owned New Zealand technology firm from about 4500 to 3650.

Datacom chief executive Jonathan Ladd says the contact centre business had grown to the point where it required a "truly scaled global specialist to take the business to the next level".

Ladd says Datacom had decided to sell now because economies of scale were becoming more important in the sector and it could not have continued to compete without a major investment.

Convergys, for example, had 77,000 staff, he says.

The type of work carried out in the contact centres involved supporting the customers of major technology brands over the phone, by email and through online chat services and through social media, in their native languages. Clients are known to have included Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard.

Datacom spent $3 million in 2009 fitting out new offices in Kuala Lumpur that were opened by Prime Minister John Key.

The company "remained utterly committed to Asia", where it would continue to provide information technology services to clients from Kuala Lumpur and Manila, and to its contact centre businesses in Australia and New Zealand, Ladd said.

The proceeds of the sale would be used to pay down debt and to invest in the rest of the Datacom business, he says.

Datacom reported a net profit of $25 million on revenues of $788 million in the year to March 2012 and it indicated in today's release that its annual revenues had since climbed to "in excess of $855m".

In December, New Zealand Post sold its 35 per cent stake in Datacom to The Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation, the "Cullen Fund" or NZ Super Fund, for $142million, in a deal that implicitly valued the company at $405million.

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