Vox seeks a big daddy

Vox Telecom has played down reports that the company has been put on the chopping block, although it has said it has entered into an "engagement process". By Regardt van der Berg.

Jacques du Toit

Jacques du Toit

Vox Telecom has begun engagements with a number of local and international companies in a move that could eventually result in a sale of the independent telecommunications service provider.

“This is more of an engagement process at this stage, rather than the sale the media is making it out to be,” says Vox Telecom CEO Jacques du Toit.

On Tuesday, MyBroadband, a forum site, said that Vox shareholders had sent out feelers to a range of companies that may be interested in buying the company, which was listed on the JSE until a few years ago. Vox’s main shareholders are Investec, RMB and Lereko Metier Capital.

The development comes amid a growing wave of consolidation in the local telecoms industry with Vodacom making a play for Neotel and Telkom bidding for Business Connexion.

BMI-TechKnowledge MD Denis Smit says the market is under “incredible pressure” as companies scramble to cut costs. “This move by Vox is to be expected from the the market right now as we see companies move to consolidate,” Smit says, adding that at the right price there there could be many potential buyers.

“There will be interested buyers but it all depends on the price. Whether they get the valuation they want is debatable.”

“The market is very dynamic at the moment and we are seeing a lot of consolidation and companies are looking for new ways to do business,” says Du Toit. “We want to look at the options in the market to grow Vox.”

He claims Vox has enjoyed “phenomenal growth” in recent years and that the only way to sustain that is to “do new things in new ways with new partners”.

“No company in this industry today can stay the way it is, and we are excited that this will bring new opportunities to the table,” he adds.

The idea of inviting companies to an engagement process was first mooted in April and “slowly started gaining traction from there”.

Vox has a number of assets that would be very appealing to potential buyers, Du Toit says.

“We have the largest product range. Many of our competitors focus on either the consumer market or the corporate and enterprise markets. Our customer profile spans 16 000 corporates and enterprises and goes up to 100 000 consumers.”

Du Toit says that the process begins formally tomorrow and will remain open for two weeks. Corporate advisor Investec will manage the process.  — © 2014 NewsCentral Media

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