Melita and Vodafone Malta announce merger

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017 
Vodafone logo

Melita LTD and Vodafone Malta merger to create new fully integrated communications provider in Malta

Apax Partners Midmarket SAS (“Apax”), Fortino Capital (“Fortino”) and Vodafone Group Plc (“Vodafone”) today announced an agreement to combine Melita Ltd (“Melita”) and Vodafone Malta Ltd (“Vodafone Malta”) (together, the “Combined Company”).

The transaction combines Vodafone Malta, the country’s leading mobile operator with the highest customer satisfaction scores and an industry-leading 4G mobile network covering 99% of the Maltese population, with Melita, Malta’s leading cable, broadband and pay TV provider, with a network covering 99% of Maltese households. Melita offers a wide range of rich content and superfast broadband download speeds of up to 250mbps.

The Combined Company’s mobile and enterprise business will operate under the Vodafone brand, distribute a wide range of services including Vodafone’s global portfolio of products and services and benefit from access to Vodafone’s extensive expertise in mobile and fixed operations worldwide.

Transaction rationale

The combination will create a new fully integrated communications company with the scale and resources required to offer competitive ‘quad play’ bundled mobile, fixed broadband, fixed telephony and TV services to Maltese consumers and a full range of enterprise services for businesses and the public sector.

In a market where demand for converged services is accelerating rapidly1, the Combined Company will be in a stronger position to compete with the fully integrated incumbent, GO, ensuring sustainable consumer choice over the long term.

The Combined Company is expected to be able to generate cost synergies through the rationalisation of overlapping activities and greater network investment efficiency as the Combined Company introduces 4.5G, and subsequently 5G, mobile networks and gigabit-capable fixed networks.

Transaction details

At completion, the current shareholders of Melita will own 51% of the Combined Company and Vodafone Europe B.V. (“VEBV”), the current shareholder of Vodafone Malta, will own the remaining 49%2.

The transaction values Vodafone Malta at an enterprise value of €208 million, equivalent to multiples of 6.8x EV/2016 EBITDA and 15.1x EV/2016 OpFCF. The transaction values Melita at an enterprise value of €298 million, equivalent to multiples of 8.9x EV/2016 EBITDA and 15.3x EV/ 2016 OpFCF3.

At completion, the Combined Company’s net debt is expected to be approximately €345 million and Vodafone will receive an estimated cash payment of €120 million which will be used for general corporate purposes. Melita’s shareholders will receive an estimated cash payment of €33 million.

The Combined Company will not be consolidated in Vodafone’s accounts and will be reported on an equity accounting basis after completion of the transaction. The transaction is not expected to have a material impact on Vodafone Group’s free cash flow or earnings.

The Melita shareholders intend to appoint the current CEO of Melita, Harald Rösch, as CEO of the Combined Company and Vodafone intends to appoint the current CFO of Vodafone Malta, Caroline Farrugia, as CFO of the Combined Company. Vodafone will announce a new role for Amanda Nelson, the current CEO of Vodafone Malta, in due course.

Conditions to completion and indicative timeline

The transaction is conditional on approval from the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority and is expected to close in the second half of the 2017 calendar year.

Harald Rösch, the CEO of Melita, said: “The highly complementary combination of Vodafone Malta with Melita will enable both companies to better respond to changing customer needs and the increasing convergence between mobile and fixed networks. This transaction will generate significant benefits for consumers, enterprises and the public sector. The combined company will also have the scale to invest more quickly in developing advanced digital infrastructure for Malta.”

Vodafone Malta Chief Executive Amanda Nelson said: “We plan to create a new customer-focused integrated communications company with a culture that retains a strong commitment to delivering the highest standards of customer service. The combined company will have the full and active support of Vodafone including use of its globally-recognised brand, as well as its products and services, and access to its extensive expertise in mobile and fixed operations worldwide.”

1. According to the Malta Communications Authority, in the fourth quarter of 2016, 78.7% of fixed broadband connections and 68.4% of postpaid fixed lines were sold in a bundle. See “Key Market Indicators for Electronic Communications and Post” Q1 2012 to Q4 2016
2. Excluding the dilutive effect of management incentivisation plans for the Combined Company
3. Melita underlying OpFCF for the twelve months ended December 31, 2016, adjusted to exclude non-recurring capital expenditure relating to IRU investments

Links: Vodafone; Melita