Vodafone NZ might be poised to fill a Xero-size whole in the NZX, but it will be a very different type of stock, despite the pair both being in the technology business.
Asked if his company will be positioned as a growth or value stock when it lists, chief executive Jason Paris says:
"I'd like to think both, right? It's good to have your cake and eat it, too. But the reality is we're in a very competitive industry where low single-digit revenue and margin growth is the norm. So a yield and dividend stock is where we'll be positioned initially."
Spark alumnus Paris says he was brought in to whip Vodafone NZ's financials into shape ahead of its IPO, which he says is still on track for early 2020.
There has been talk from insiders that a restructure currently underway could see up to 400 of the telco's 2800 staff culled. Paris says nothing is confirmed at this point and won't be until the end of March.
But he says a "bold" plan to cut costs is underway to free up funds to invest in new technologies. And, of course, soon there will be dividends to pay.
Vodafone NZ has been to slow to adopt innovations produced by its parent company, such as Vodafone TV, Paris says. He hopes that post-restructure, the local operation will be more agile, and more capable of investing in "digital adjacencies" that could ultimately turn it into a growth stock.
For 2017 (it's most recently reported financial year), Vodafone NZ made a profit of $57.5 million, turning around a loss of $18.3m. Revenue increased by 2.8 per cent to $2.05 billion.
The telco first raised the prospect of floating its New Zealand business late last year, with a global roadshow for potential investors.
That effort was a sounding-out process and did not include a mooted IPO value (documentation released during the failed Sky merger valued Vodafone NZ at $3.44b).
It got the cold shoulder. Paris' mission is to make the telco a more attractive proposition - by taking an axe to costs then seeking new digital opportunities.
Among other opportunities, he hopes a new alliance with ASX-listed Vocus, aimed at unbundling Chorus fibre, will give his company more flexibility over the services it offers, and at what price.
The Vodafone NZ boss says that as a proud Kiwi, he would like to see his company listed on the NZX (also the stated preference of his predecessor, Russell Stanners). But he adds that the decision could well be made higher up Vodafone's global foodchain and that an NZX/ASX dual listing or an ASX-only listing is possible.