VOCUS SAYS SORRY TO SHAREHOLDERS FOR 'UNPLEASANT' YEAR

VOCUS SAYS SORRY TO SHAREHOLDERS FOR 'UNPLEASANT' YEAR
VOCUS (ASX: VOC) chairman Vaughan Bowen has apologised to shareholders for what he says was "not a good year" after the data network company reported a $1.46 billion full-year loss.

At the company's AGM today, Bowen (pictured) acknowledged the pain felt by shareholders over the company's performance during 2016-17 which he described as an "unpleasant experience" during an "exceptionally intense" time.

Australia's fourth-largest telco, which owns corporate data networks as well as retail brands Dodo and iPrimus, endured management changes, an earnings guidance downgrade and a $1.5 billion writedown that followed a series of acquisitions and mergers.

"The short-term pain Vocus has experienced and, in turn, forced our shareholders to experience, is something we apologise for without reservation," Bowen said at the AGM.

"We state our commitment to restoring shareholder value as our priority, above all else," he said.

The Vocus AGM was held a day after it announced it is planning to sell its New Zealand business, valued at around $400 million, by the end of June 2018 in a move designed to reduce its debt and provide "strategic options".

The group's Australian Data Centre assets are also up for grabs now that the company has appointed advisers for the sale of those assets.

The massive full year loss followed a two-year expansion spree that included the purchase of Amcom and Nextgen, plus a merger with rival M2 Group.

"The board and senior leadership team have moved decisively over recent months to address the issues that led to our under-performance in FY17, and in turn the balance sheet writedown, once again, with the overriding objective of restoring value for shareholders," Bowen says.

Vocus CEO Geoff Horth the company's priority is to restore value to shareholders, and he reaffirmed 2018 full year guidance of earnings between $370 million and $390 million.

At around 1.30pm (AEDT) Vocus shares were down nearly 3 per cent to $2.72.

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