Tesbrit BV has been granted Overseas Investment Office approval to buy up to 49.9 percent of Two Degrees Mobile should the opportunity arise, valuing the country's third-biggest mobile operator at about $552 million.
The European shareholder already owns 26.5 per cent of 2degrees and, according to the OIO, has noted it doesn't control when and if it will have the opportunity to buy more shares. It has also said the timing of any proposed sale by a 2degrees shareholder of its shares to a third party - triggering pre-emptive rights in favour of existing shareholders - is outside its control.
"As such, the applicant wishes to have the flexibility to acquire up to 49.9 per cent of the rights and interests in all securities of 2degrees as such opportunities may arise from time to time," the OIO said.
The decision requires the interested party or parties have business experience and acumen relevant to that overseas investment, demonstrated a financial commitment to the overseas investment, and are of good character.
The New Zealand mobile phone company was part of a wider listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange earlier this year when Canada's Trilogy International Partners sold its 63 per cent stake in 2degrees into a new entity.
Trilogy took a 51 per cent stake in the listed entity, renamed Trilogy International, which also took on a 72 per cent interest in Bolivian mobile operator Neuva Tel. At the time, the deal put an enterprise value on the combined shareholdings at US$875m (NZ$117m). OIO documents approving the reverse listing placed a value of up to US$266.8m on the New Zealand assets.