UDPATE Datacom sees no strategy change as NZ Post sells out to NZ Super Fund

Datacom Group, the Wellington-based IT services firm, doesn’t envisage any change in its direction after 35 percent shareholder New Zealand Post sold its stake to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund.

State-owned postal service NZ Post has sold its share for $142 million, reaping a net gain of $76.4 million. The sale of shares in Datacom “is a move out of necessity given other capital priorities” within the group, according to NZ Post chief executive Brian Roche.

Datacom chief executive Jonathan Ladd told BusinessDesk that NZ Post had supported the company’s international aspirations. He expects the NZ Super Fund will be much the same, seeing the investment as a “long-term growth play.”

Ladd says the company will look to capitalise on growth in its existing businesses, including software development and management, as well as stepping into new areas, such as its ability to service trans-Tasman businesses from a single point of contact.

Datacom is an IT services provider with more than 4,000 staff across 13 sites in the Asia Pacific region. It lifted net profit 12 percent to $25 million on a 9 percent increase in sales to $725 million in the 2012 financial year.

NZ Super Fund general management of investments Matt Whineray said: “Datacom’s conservative balance sheet and long-term investment focus are well suited to the fund’s approach as a long-term, growth-oriented investor.”

NZ Post’s credit rating was cut to A+ from AA- in October as the state-owned enterprise searches for new revenue streams in the face of dwindling demand for traditional postal services. The funds will be used to restructure the group’s debt position and fund strategic investments.

The state-owned enterprise’s profit rose 38 percent last year, mainly driven by record returns from its Kiwibank subsidiary. Postal revenue fell by $17 million as kiwis posted 54 million fewer letters.

NZ Post will remain a significant customer of Datacom, it said. The deal requires approval from the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board.

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