By Gugu Lourie
Vox Telecom is taking big bets on acquisitions and fibre rollout as part of a five-year strategy to make the company more competitive and agile.
The company, which was delisted from the JSE’s AltX in 2011 after a R500m buyout by shareholders including Lereko Metier Capital and Investec, offers voice solutions, data access and internet service provider (ISP) services, cloud services, a variety of PABX (private automatic brand exchange) and video conferencing services, telephony management systems, faxing and text messaging applications. PABX is an automatic telephone switching system used by corporates.
After the withdrawal of an exploratory process to sell the business (started in July last year), Vox developed its five-year strategy this January. Thereafter, the company’s shareholders provided the management of Vox Telecom with a war chest to reinvent the business and compete aggressively.
CEO Jacques du Toit says the strategy is based on four pillars: doubling the sales team, acquisitions, getting into other product streams and automation.
“The moment we start seeing traction and success in the current strategy… I think that the war chest will have the ability to grow a little bit, but our role now is to show our shareholders that our strategy is paying dividends,” he says.
The size of the “war chest” has not been disclosed.
On the lookout for more buys, talking to 13 firms
The ultimate aim is to ensure that Vox Telecom delivers superior services and products to its customers, enabling it to maximise shareholder value.
As part of the strategy, on 22 July Vox Telecom made its foray into the lucrative fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and fibre-to-the- business (FTTB) sectors by acquiring Frogfoot Networks, an ISP. The acquisition of Frogfoot for an undisclosed amount will hasten Vox Telecom’s move into the fast-growing fibre market. This will allow the company to deploy fibre to cities such as Bloemfontein, Mmabatho, and Polokwane, allowing it to service close to 80 precincts.
Du Toit is still on the lookout for more buys.
“We’ve got another 13-odd companies on the radar. That list expands and shrinks on a daily basis, because the most important two aspects for us are whether it [the company being targeted] supports our vertical integration strategy and, secondly, whether it allows us to diversify,” he explains.
Last October, Vox Telecom bought Two IT and Computer Initiatives, which provide specialist consulting in Microsoft Dynamics and business applications.
To launch a converged, uncapped voice, PABX and video conferencing bundle
In June, the company also bought Wishlist Corporation, making Vox Telecom one of the largest Microsoft Dynamics partners for the mid-market in Southern Africa.
Du Toit says the company is talking to “one or two more companies as well” to expand its consulting and integration capabilities.
Vox’s communications unit offers a “phenomenal and exciting road ahead”, Du Toit says.
In July, it used this unit to launch a first to market uncapped voice package in areas where it is rolling out FTTH.
“We will very shortly be launching a converged, uncapped voice, PABX and video conferencing bundle for the corporate market,” he adds.
“The ultimate aim is to provide solutions that will enable our customers to be successful. If the customers are successful in their businesses, Vox will also be successful,” he explains. “What’s easy is that, from a shareholder perspective, we know what needs to be done. The executive is crystal clear on what needs to be done.”
This article is also published in Finweek