The ASX-listed Vocus Group has reported another positive period for its operations on this side of the Tasman.
The owner of Orcon and Slingshot said its NZ revenue rose six per cent to NZ$398.8 million for the year to June 30, while ebitda rose 4 per cent to NZ$65.4 million.
It was the NZ operation's fifth straight year of operating earnings growth.
Vocus Group financial statements filed to the ASX include the line "$7.7m [NZ$8m] was paid in relation to Stuff Fibre New Zealand" - the broadband operation offloaded by new Fairfax owner Nine just before it sold its NZ operation, Stuff, to chief executive Sinead Boucher for NZ$1 in May.
Boucher told the Herald it was "not correct" to look on the A$7.7m as the sale price, however. She said confidentiality terms meant the actual full amount could not be disclosed.
The ASX filing says Stuff Fibre contributed NZ$1.8m revenue during its first six weeks of Vocus ownership, to June 30, implying full-year revenue around the NZ$16m mark.
The Stuff Fibre acquisition bumped Vocus's NZ subscriber base up 10 per cent to around 226,000 (putting Vocus well ahead of 2degrees and Trustpower in fixed-line broadband, if still some distance being Vodafone NZ on around 420,000 and Spark on around 700,000).
In late May, the Herald noted that with its 20,000 customers, Stuff Fibre was very similar in price to Snap Internet, bought by 2degrees in 2016 for $28m. But a person close to the Snap deal said the price was likely to be a lot less, because around half of Snap's customers were high-yielding business clients, whereas Stuff Fibre's clients were mostly lower-yielding residential accounts.
The amount of the Stuff Fibre sale became something of an element of intrigue because it played into Boucher's immediate source of funding.
"As a result of the successful completion of the Stuff Fibre sale on 20 May 2020, Nine will receive 25 per cent of those proceeds before completion of the Stuff sale, plus up to a further 75 per cent over the subsequent 36 months, depending on the Stuff business' ability to raise funding," Nine said in a statement to the ASX." Nine said in a statement to the ASX in May.
Vocus Group shares were up 8.5 per cent to A$3.18 in early ASX trading after the full-year result was announced.
The telco made a net loss of A$178.2m, but the red ink was tied to a A$202m write-down of the brand-value and goodwill of its retail business in the face of Covid.
Investors seemed to have looked beyond that to strong underlying earnings.
Group ebitda grew 10 per cent to A$222m, and revenue was up 6 per cent for it business division and 9 per cent for its retail unit.
Mark Callendar - the chief executive of Vocus NZ who also sits on the board and looks after the telco's wholesale operations on both sides of the Tasman - told the Herald, "Despite the challenges of Covid-19, there is a positive outlook in the market with households and businesses switching providers with an increased focus on network performance.
"This is more important than ever as homes become the office and the classroom. With our 'challenger' brands in market, we are in a prime position to overachieve along with enabling new market entrants that value this level performance.
"Obviously, there is still some uncertainty with Covid-19 and the impact on the broader economy, but we are fortunate to be providing essential services.
"In addition, all our staff including all customer service functions are based in New Zealand, which we know our customers value on a daily basis."