Swedish private equity company EQT has pulled its bid for ASX-listed Vocus, just one week into a due diligence process.
However, there has been immediate speculation in the Australian business press that one of two rival suitors could step forward.
One is utilities AGL Energy, in a deal that would have echoes of Intratil's $3.4 billion offer for Vodafone's New Zealand business.
The other is Canadian infrastructure investment company Brookfield, which is already involved as a 50:50 partner with Infratil in its Vodafone NZ play.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
But as things stand, no alternative offer is on the table.
In a filing to the ASX, which noted talks with EQT have "now ceased," Vocus chief executive Kevin Russell said the group was in the early stages of a business turnaround.
"We have great confidence that our strategy will deliver significant value to our shareholders in the medium to long term."
Russell said he would give investors a strategic update in the last week of June.
Vocus shares have jumped from A$3.89 to yesterday's closing price of A$4.58 following EQT's indicative, non-binding bid of A$5.25 per share (valuing Vocus at A$3.3b), which was placed on May 27.
There was speculation that EQT would sell-off Vocus' New Zealand assets, which include Orcon, Slingshot, Flip, 2Talk, data centres formerly owned by Maxnet, a fibre network formerly owned by FX Networks and power retailer Switch.
EQT's decision to walk is the third time a private equity placer has thrown in the towel during the due diligence period. US PE players KKR and Affinity both withdrew bids in mid-2017.