NZX-listed investment company, Infratil has flagged plans to buy Vodafone, in partnership with an unspecified other party, and has requested a trading halt.
The NZX said the halt would remain in place until market opening on 14 May, unless there is an earlier announcement from Infratil.
Meanwhile the Australian Financial Review has reported that Trans-Tasman infrastructure investor Morrison & Co and Canadian investment company Brookfield are in talks to buy Vodafone NZ for US$2.5b ($3.78b), through a 50/50 joint venture.
The AFR described the talks as ‘advanced’. It noted that Morrison & Co is headed by former Telecom NZ CFO Marko Bogoievski.
The move comes in the wake of two aborted attempts by Vodafone Group to get other investors into its New Zealand subsidiary.
In November 2017 the AFR revealed plans for a Vodafone IPO. CEO Russell Stanners and finance director, John Tombleson, presented plans to fund managers in New Zealand, Australia, Asia, Europe and the US in a roadshow later that year.
However Stanners told the National Business Review in April 2018 that the plan had been put on hold. “We obviously had a look at doing an IPO but there was a bit of a market wobble,” he was reported saying. He gave no indication as to when, or if, the plan would be revived.
The aborted IPO followed the Commerce Commission, in February 2017, blocking a planned merger with Sky Television on the grounds that it would lessen competition by creating a strong vertically integrated pay TV and full service telecommunications provider owning all premium sports content.
In September 2018 Vodafone NZ reported a 16 percent decline, to $39.0m, in net profit for the 12 months to 30 June.