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Edited Transcript of NXT.AX earnings conference call or presentation 26-Feb-19 10:30pm GMT

Half Year 2019 NEXTDC Ltd Earnings Call

Jan 9, 2020 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of NEXTDC Ltd earnings conference call or presentation Tuesday, February 26, 2019 at 10:30:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Craig Scroggie

NEXTDC Limited - CEO, MD & Executive Director

* Oskar Tomaszewski

NEXTDC Limited - CFO

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Conference Call Participants

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* Bob Chen

Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division - Former Research Associate

* Jonathan Atkin

RBC Capital Markets, Research Division - MD and Senior Analyst

* Kane Hannan

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division - Research Analyst

* Mitchell Sonogan

Macquarie Research - Analyst

* Nick Harris

Morgans Financial Limited, Research Division - Senior Analyst

* Paul Mason

Evans & Partners Pty. Ltd., Research Division - Executive Director of Technology

* Tim Plumbe

UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Former Director and Research Analyst

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Thank you for standing by, and welcome to the NEXTDC Limited for First Half 2019 Results Announcement Conference Call. (Operator Instructions) I would now like to hand the conference over to Mr. Craig Scroggie, CEO. Please go ahead.

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Craig Scroggie, NEXTDC Limited - CEO, MD & Executive Director [2]

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Thanks Jody. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the NEXTDC results presentation for the first half of the 2019 financially year. I'm joined here today in Sydney with our CFO, Oskar Tomaszewski.

We begin on Slide 2, we're very pleased to present another set of record results with total revenue over $90 million and underlying EBITDA of more than $42 million for the half. Contracted utilization grew strongly on the back of what was our largest ever sales half. We finished [December] with more than 50 megawatts under contract.

Our ecosystem continues to expand. We added more than 2,500 interconnections over the past 12 months to finish the first half with almost 10,000, which is up 34% in the same period a year ago.

Our channel-first go-to-market platform also continued to evolve. We're now close to 1,100 customers and more than 500 partners, of which more than 60 are connectivity and network service providers. S2 in Sydney opened for early customer access in the first half with development ongoing. Our P2 microsite and connectivity hub also opened to facilitate early access to the Indigo submarine cable.

On Slide 3, our strong performance in the first half is highlighted by robust key operating metrics. Revenue from operations increased by $13.3 million. Contracted utilization increased by a record 11.1 megawatts or 28%. And interconnection revenue has grown to 7.7% of recurring revenue, which is up from 6.2% in that same period.

Our results continue to demonstrate the benefits of the company's inherent operating leverage. Underlying EBITDA increased 26% to $42.2 million. Operating cash flow is $15 million, after approximately $20 million of net interest paid and $6 million in one-off payments related to the acquisition of APDC.

We remain well-capitalized to support the company's growth plan. Total liquidity at December 31, was $644 million, inclusive of our $300 million senior debt facility, which remains undrawn. Our balance sheet position has never been stronger, which is now underpinned by the $1.6 billion of total assets. At 31 December, we held property with a carrying value of $581 million and plant equipment with a carrying value of $594 million. Our network continued to expand at a rapid pace, [Net2] was obviously opened in the first half for our early customer access and the P2 microsite was opened to facilitate early access to the submarine cable system as well as other important telecommunications and cloud infrastructure provided in the WA market, which is central to our retail colocation strategy.

Finally, we completed the acquisition with the underlying land and building, the P1, M1 and S1. We also acquired B1 in that time, consistent with NEXTDC's long-term strategy to now own the underlying properties. I'll hand over to Oskar to discuss our financial results. Thanks, Oskar.

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Oskar Tomaszewski, NEXTDC Limited - CFO [3]

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Thank you, Craig. Let's now turn to Slide 6, the summary of our full year profit and loss. The first [half-year] results reflects data center services revenue of $84.1 million, an increase of 15% on the corresponding period last year. Net loss after tax of $3.1 million, a result which includes the impacts of increased depreciation costs for our newer facilities, increased finance cost and $8.5 million in one-off costs related to the acquisition of APDC.

As previously advised, NEXTDC adopted the new accounting standards, AASB 9, 15 and 16, from 1st of July, 2018.

Our non-statutory highlights include underlying EBITDA $42.2 million, an increase of 26% on the corresponding period last year. These underlying results exclude distribution income from our previous holding in APDC, transaction costs, including landholder duty related to the acquisition and windup of APDC as well as gains on the extinguishment of property leases. Direct cost of $16.9 million, which was in line with contracted customer capacity and power costs. The net impact to direct costs relating to energy pricing after net increases in power consumption was approximately 15% of total direct costs.

Facility costs decreased to $8.3 million from $14.9 million, primarily relating to rental cost savings, as a result of both the adoption of new lease accounting standard, AASB 16, and the acquisition of the underlying land and buildings of P1, M1, S1 and B1.

Corporate overheads increased to $17.2 million from $13.6 million, primarily relating to investing in the staffing, support and early operations at M2, S2 and P2, reflecting the new investments and growing of our second generation of assets as well as the associated increase in centralization as we continued with our network and [cloud] expansion.

Onto Slide 7. Revenue generated from RECs, be it cross connect and other recurring sources, accounted for 96% of total data center services revenue, an increase from 90% in first half '18. Note that the key driver of this increase is the adoption of AASB 15, the new revenue accounting standard, according to which a project's revenue which now must be incurred and recognized over the term of the underlying customer contract rather than recognized upfront as per the previous policy.

The underlying EBITDA performance highlights NEXTDC's inherent operating leverage as demonstrated by the continuing strong earnings growth in excess of revenue growth.

Slide 8 sets out our revenue per unit metrics. Both of our annualized revenue metrics have grown strongly during first half '19, benefiting from contracted price escalation and increased connectivity, power density as well as power recharge revenues. It's also worth noting that revenues from larger ecosystem enhancing customer deployments increased over time due to higher usage of contracted power capacity, increased demand for interconnection, and the use of internal services over time.

Slide 9 combines our balance sheet position and cash flows. At 31 December, NEXTDC held property with a carrying value of $581 million as well as price and equipment to a carrying value of $594 million. Our net assets stood at $882 million. Finally, we remain well-capitalized to continue our growth trajectory with total liquidity comprising cash and undrawn debt facilities of $644 million.

I'll now hand you back across to Craig to go through our business performance and outlook for the 2019 financial year.

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Craig Scroggie, NEXTDC Limited - CEO, MD & Executive Director [4]

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Thanks, Oskar. So on Slide 11, our non-financial metrics are set out. Total number of customers' up 25% year-on-year to 1,090, our interconnections grew 34% and total cross connects per customer grew 7% over the same period to 9.2.

On Slide 12, further insight into the diversity of our business. Customers by industry shows strong representation from cloud and connectivity with continued solid growth from the enterprise. There's a skew towards higher density deployments and that reflects the growth in the hyper-converged infrastructure than what we're seeing in the emerging development of hybrid clouds.

On Slide 13, at 31 December, 90% of our installed capacity was sold and 73% of the sold capacity was billing. The increase in unbilled but contracted capacity further underpinned our confidence in the forward revenue and earnings outlook. First chart highlights the strong growth experienced by the company in recent periods, reflecting high levels of utilization with further operating leverage still to come.

On Slide 14, our capacity and utilization. In Sydney with S2, we already sold close to 16 megawatts of capacity and the ongoing strength of demand in that market has provided us with the confidence to pull forward total capacity to 22 megawatts of the planned 30 megawatts in S2. In Perth, we completed the land acquisition for P2 and immediately commenced construction. The P2 microsite and connectivity hub was opened and we now provide early customer access at this site, not only for the Indigo subsea cable, but to continue to develop the [diverse rate] power and ecosystem. And you would note that we recently announced not only Amazon connectivity services in the Perth market, but we've taken Microsoft to Perth as well which is a great move for the company.

In P1, we also opened the fourth and final data hall. So no longer an [up] center. In Brisbane, we opened second data hall of P2, a facility which recently achieved accreditation for the Tier IV Gold Certification of Operational Sustainability, and it's a great achievement for the team. It's the first in the Southern Hemisphere.

In Melbourne, M1 also achieved a first, a first for the Australian data center industry, which was the NABERS 5-star rating accreditation, and it's great result for the team from an engineering and efficiency point of view.

On Slide 16, revenue guidance of $180 million to $184 million, is underpinned by strong growth in recurring revenue and our long-term customer contracts. Obviously, our rich ecosystem continues to develop, which is driving very strong demand in our connectivity solutions and you can see that reflected in our interconnection numbers, reaching now 10,000. Note that our revenue guidance no longer includes distributions from APDC for the second half. It is now fully acquired, finally, and consolidated to property.

Now we expect underlying EBITDA between $83 million to $87 million with scale and earnings growth now driven by our generation 2 facilities and obviously, you'll see that continue to scale. Total CapEx is expected to be between $430 million and $470 million, but that excludes the acquisition of APDC and the B1 properties. Our guidance for underlying EBITDA and CapEx remains unchanged. The only change that you'll see is change in the revenue number as we no longer do those for distribution.

So in summary, it was certainly a massively exciting half for the company. It will be our biggest half -- biggest sales half, biggest half for this group in interconnections and revenue growth. So from a performance point of view, very, very pleased with where the company is today. And obviously, continuing to prepare ourselves to take advantage of that very large shift, not only to retail colocation as customers continue to move out of legacy on-premise facilities, but obviously, the massive growth that we're seen in the hyperscale cloud. And that continues to give us great confidence to invest in future for business and for our shareholders. So ladies and gentlemen, that is the presentation today. I'm now going to ask Jody to open the line for questions. Thanks.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) Your first question today is from Kane Hannan from Goldman Sachs.

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Kane Hannan, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division - Research Analyst [2]

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Just 3 for me, please. Just firstly in terms of that revenue guidance, can you just confirm all those provisions are relating to the transactions and in the interest impact? Then secondly, in the 9 megawatts Sydney contract you announced in November, can you just provide us with a bit more color around the terms and pricing and all on that contract if you can? And ofcourse, the returns or expectations for those megawatts? And then finally just cash conversion. During the first half, it looked a bit softer than I was sort of expecting, given I thought you were going to unwind from these issue in the second half of last year? Could you just comment around the impact on the cash conversion in the first half, please?

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Oskar Tomaszewski, NEXTDC Limited - CFO [3]

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Yes. Thanks, Kane. It's Oskar. I'll take those 3 questions. Firstly on revenue guidance, I can confirm that change to our guidance is lower expected distribution income. Obviously, we're not getting any more distribution income from APDC. As well as lower expected interest income, because of the funds that we paid to acquire APDC. The second question related to the contract or contracts that we announced towards the end of the first half. I can't comment beyond what was in the ASX announcement so I can't go into any commercial terms because they're commercially sensitive. In terms of operating cash flow conversion, I would note that our operating cash flow is, after the expensing of approximately 5.8 -- or paying approximately $5.8 million of transaction costs related to the acquisition of APDC, is a one-off in nature as well as after incurring of approximately $20 million of interest payments related to our facilities.

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Operator [4]

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Your next question is from Jon Atkin with RBC Capital Markets.

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Jonathan Atkin, RBC Capital Markets, Research Division - MD and Senior Analyst [5]

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So I was interested in maybe hearing you describe your outlook in terms of the sales pipeline. And how does that look in, kind of, the hyperscale segments as well as in your enterprise segments? If it differs in Perth versus Melbourne versus Sydney. Maybe kind of a geographic and then segmentation, couple of comments on around that in terms of sales pipeline? And then on the strategic fronts, just interested in kind of an update on whether there's line-of-sight towards land, power and development projects in places like Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore?

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Craig Scroggie, NEXTDC Limited - CEO, MD & Executive Director [6]

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Thanks, Jon. I'll take those ones. Sales pipeline continues to be obviously be at a record level both in terms of retail -- I think I'll start with core growth because this strategy continues to be focused on the development of those -- the [TDK] segments with customers. So we're not exclusively looking to build a hyperscale wholesale business. That's, obviously, an important segment of the market with lower rate of returns if you look at the global benchmarks. We can favor and look favorably at Equinix's business model with a benchmark to its NEXTDC's development for our ecosystem. We've certainly built an extremely diversified and naturally successful business on a global scale, pursuing that -- growing the business model. And we believe the same is true, continue to focus on retail colocation, focus on Internet connectivity and cloud connectivity services. And the investments that we continue to make in the Axon cloud on-ramps, the Microsoft and Amazon, we note that obviously we continue to take those cloud providers into new regions in Australia. So yes, retail and wholesale, our pipeline is at record all-time high. Certainly, we can't put data centers in every location. And what we're seeing in markets, particularly in Sydney, is that multiple availability zones continue to emerge. So we will do our best to keep up with demand in the availability zones that we operate. I mean it's difficult to do it everywhere and obviously we don't have unlimited capital. So we're focused our business model, on what makes NEXTDC unique. In a similar regard, obviously we continue to look closely at markets like Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. And there are great opportunities in those markets. The dynamics are very similar for us from a client requirement point of view in hyperscale and in retail colocations. And in the type and style of prices that those customers are looking for. So it's a great opportunity to be there. It's really just a question of time and prioritization of our capital. So as I've said before, I hope at some point in time we are capable of expanding the company internationally when we're ready to do so.

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Jonathan Atkin, RBC Capital Markets, Research Division - MD and Senior Analyst [7]

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So if I can follow-up briefly then on the first question. Are you noticing any change in lengthening or contraction in decision cycles on the part of some of the larger customers as they need to kind of locate additional capacity in Australia? And then on the enterprise side, is there any kind of change in your distribution mix between partners and in the U.S.?

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Craig Scroggie, NEXTDC Limited - CEO, MD & Executive Director [8]

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Yes, so we were, obviously, just recently in U.S., Jon, as you would know, working with all of the larger customers in the planning period. So I don't think the cycles, necessarily, have changed it, maybe the amount of capital that we're deploying has changed. It's materially increased. And we're seeing an increase in the total pipeline size as a result of what used to be a 1-megawatt deal and that now being a 5-megawatt or a 5-megawatt deal which would have historically been extremely large now morphing into 10-plus megawatts type transaction opportunity. And for a relatively small market like Australia, they are very, very big numbers. So we remain enormously excited about the potential opportunity to continue to grow with those partners. But we continue to be very disciplined in context with our return expectations and we don't expect that we'll have a 100% of the market. And we'll continue look to invest with customers where we can bring value, grow out particular business model and benefit from a blended retail and wholesale colocation business. On the partner side. Partners is very, very important to our strategy. It was early on and partnerships continue to evolve now with more than [15] partners that are reselling and integrating NEXTDC services into their go-to-market strategy. So that productization process that we work through with each individual partner's critically important. That partner can play a very, very important role in differentiating how NEXTDC go to market and why the value that we offer to partners is different from other operators in the data center industry. And frankly, that continued investment and development of that strategy will see the company continue to diversify its product portfolio and offer a big range of services for customers as we build out our footprint over the coming 12, 24 months. So yes, partners are critical to our success and will continue to be.

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Operator [9]

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Your next question is from Tim Plumbe from UBS Investment Bank.

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Tim Plumbe, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Former Director and Research Analyst [10]

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Just a couple of questions from me if that's all right. Craig, firstly on pricing, revenue per meter squared, revenue per megawatt up about 3% half on half, so looking good there. Can you talk a little bit around pricing in the market at the moment? What sort of pricing you can -- perhaps you're seeing when you're rolling over contracts, et cetera?

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Craig Scroggie, NEXTDC Limited - CEO, MD & Executive Director [11]

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Yes. Thanks, Tim. On contract growth year-on-year, obviously, we see standardized CPI, plus price escalated every year for the installed base. And that's still a common -- obviously, across the data center industry. In terms of retail pricing, obviously, our benchmark is with Equinix and we continue to view Equinix as the global benchmark for excellence in retail data center. I just met with the Equinix local managing director, Jeremy, last week, had a good conversation. Their business, by all accounts seems to be continuing to shoot the lights down in retail. They've been very pleased with their acquisition of Metronode and continue to invest in that platform. And on the retail side, that's fantastic. Because we tend to find that a lot of enterprise deals, if you look at the Sydney market where Equinix owns the Mascot campus, we're in Macquarie Park. A lot of transactions will be us and Equinix together on either side of the customer's infrastructure when they're building a diversified IT strategy. So they're getting both ends from both suppliers. So we tend to see the continued focus on the value in that segment and see them as a very price-disciplined, quality operator data center. They're also very focused on the value of interconnection, as we continue to be. Because we see the importance of the role that we play in working closely with customers and partners to advise clients on how they will adopt and utilize both the public and private cloud platform. And the combination of those public and private cloud platforms with their legacy computing infrastructure and obviously, that's what today drives the fastest-growing segment for hyperconverged infrastructure which is really that [billing] the ecosystem that we focus on which is hybrid computing. So yes, seems like in pricing, we've been pleased that we continue to see a rational discipline in relation to the deployment of capital. And then on the wholesale side of the sleeve, we don't play exclusively in the ultra-cheap wholesale category. We tend to pick and choose when we participate in that segment. But global pricings may still be benchmarked. We look at the global pricing that's put out by both Citi and RBC and we tend to see the similar pricing in the Australian market in the last half. It's continued to be reflected in what's going on from the top data center providers in the U.S. markets. Particularly digital realty core sites and probably [fire a swan] at the key benchmark drivers for pricing in the U.S. and a piece of the Australian market probably reflects that in the last half.

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Tim Plumbe, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Former Director and Research Analyst [12]

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Right. And just secondly on S2. Can you give us a sense for how you would expect a major customer to roll out their new capacity into the second half of '19 and into, like, '20? Can you kind of give us a sense for what sort of EBITDA contribution you've got incorporated within your current guidance for S2 in the second half or how we should be thinking about average billing megawatts in the second half for S2?

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Craig Scroggie, NEXTDC Limited - CEO, MD & Executive Director [13]

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Yes, sure. There's a fair amount of detail in that, Tim. So without picking the model apart, but the high-level commentary I would make is obviously, if you have a look, part of the reason of the key drivers for going with our continuous development methodology, and it's quite a challenge to be honest, to, without a doubt, the most challenging development we've really taken on building a multistory high-rise data center and opening it while it's still under development. It's certainly one of the most challenging engineering feats that we've ever undertaken. And as a company, I'm incredibly proud of what the engineering team has been able to do to build a multi-story high-rise hyperscale data center, open a portion of that while the ongoing development is done. And that was critically important to support our customer's need. Because they needed the capacity early and as it turns out, they need it often. And we are building as fast as we can possibly build to support those customers' continuing growth requirements. And so you'll see the revenue come on during the course of the later '19 and early '20 years. Essentially, it will be in line with as quickly as we can continue to develop. So if the development continues to go to plan, after this currently, or we can potentially speed up. But largely, obviously we're taking all of those factors into account in our guidance for the full year and the second half. But in terms of very, very specific line item model related things, they're probably questions that I think Greg would be capable of working through with you in more detail with your model.

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Tim Plumbe, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Former Director and Research Analyst [14]

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Got it. And is it fair, looking at first half, the EBITDA at 51% is going to be your guidance range, 49% at the top end of your guidance range plus in the second half you should be getting some sort of benefit coming through from the next 2?

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Craig Scroggie, NEXTDC Limited - CEO, MD & Executive Director [15]

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Yes, not a lot, and the reason for that, obviously, is that we always give customers time to move in and ramp up in the early stages. So as we have with every new data center development, we give customers time to move in and get up to building capacity themselves. And that's reflected also not only in the commercial party, but in the [temporary] contracts. So those larger, longer-term contracts allow us more flexibility to support the customers, to support their infrastructure and get some time to get their own billing up and running before they hit to higher payments from a renter point of view.

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Tim Plumbe, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Former Director and Research Analyst [16]

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Got it. And just last question, any update that you can provide in terms of the Melbourne hyperscale market? Are we starting to see any signs of life there or is it a bit of slow burn in kind of 12 months away?

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Craig Scroggie, NEXTDC Limited - CEO, MD & Executive Director [17]

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Yes. Melbourne continues to be -- I think that city has got massive potential. Clearly the Sydney market is in the 5-plus years in sales growth than Melbourne and we've seen both second and third generation deployment for infrastructure providers right across the board. So everyone's benefiting from those massive scale investments. And the bigger platforms that are in their second or third generation are, as I said earlier, they're not deploying 1 megawatts, they deploying 5 or 10 or even more in a number of cases. But the Sydney market, unquestionably is extraordinary sized, massive growth and we certainly see well in excess of another 100 megawatts capable of being sold into the market medium -- short to medium term here in Sydney. So compared to Melbourne, which is probably in the first, maybe moving towards the second generation in size and scale. We've deployed an appropriate amount of infrastructure in M2. But we have to look at he opened first and second data halls. We sold those out largely in line with our just-in-time continuous development methodology. We've been building third and fourth data halls. We'll be well-sold into those by the time they're opened shortly. And we don't overbuild inventory. So again, remaining capital disciplined is the primary objective for us to ensure that we don't deploy our capital before it's required. So largely, we build for retail capacity 1 or 2 data halls at a time. And you see that when we obviously are building multiple megawatts and investing in a market like Sydney with additional capacity, it means that we've got commitments from customers. But we will continue to be capital disciplined and we'll deploy relative to the rate of growth after the market. But I think, yes, it's probably fair to say that Melbourne has great potential and we're in a position to take advantage of that as soon as the hyperscale platforms will grow to a larger extent in that market.

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Operator [18]

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Next question is from Paul Mason from Evans & Partners.

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Paul Mason, Evans & Partners Pty. Ltd., Research Division - Executive Director of Technology [19]

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Just a couple for me. The first one just wanted to clarify your comments about S2 and your guidance about the pull forward of 16 megawatts. Should I be reading that as essentially a pulling forward the completion of a facility? Because I think that your last contract announcement, you'd announced a pull-forward of 8 which would mean you're at about 22 or so. So you are saying you're going around 30 now?

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Oskar Tomaszewski, NEXTDC Limited - CFO [20]

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I will take that one, Paul. We have 6 megawatts of capacity in phase 1. So essentially, we're just reemphasizing that we're pulling-forward an additional 16 megawatts on top of that which is consistent with a much recent capacity upgrade where we start building towards the 22 megawatts. So that's how that math works.

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Paul Mason, Evans & Partners Pty. Ltd., Research Division - Executive Director of Technology [21]

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Okay, great. Just on the contract in New South Wales. It looks like you're up to about 30.4 megawatts contracted now, which implies a bit of extra retail. I just wanted to just get a sense of that. Is that going to S1 or is some of that actually already contracted to S2 retail as well?

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Oskar Tomaszewski, NEXTDC Limited - CFO [22]

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We're not able to give any detailed split for our New South Wales facilities, unfortunately, for some specific reasons in relation to the (inaudible) disclosure.

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Paul Mason, Evans & Partners Pty. Ltd., Research Division - Executive Director of Technology [23]

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Okay. Just on Melbourne, maybe. So I'll just -- taking your case study and then your accounts. And it looks like you've got about 0.8 megawatt contracted at M2 but it's putting out about just under $2 million of EBITDA already. So historically, that would, kind of, indicate that you've got much more than that contracted to. Should I just be looking at that as you've got effectively a lot more floor space contracted and it's just on really, really, really low power? Or what else is going into that mean that the profits come in higher than your megawatt contracted look-forward?

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Craig Scroggie, NEXTDC Limited - CEO, MD & Executive Director [24]

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Paul, it's Craig. And so, yes, I guess that reflects the strong performance of the retail colocation business. So yes, what you see is largely deployed in M2 stable enterprise. So enterprise, as I said, reflects a generally lower density to higher rate of return. Whereas the hyperscale is a higher density to lower rate of return. So that's why we like the retail colocation business, continuing to focus as much as it's hard and it's disciplined and it's long sales cycled; it adds enormous value to the ecosystem, diversity, customers often controlling their core services as they develop their hybrid cloud solutions. And what's reflected in M2 today is pretty much a very dense retail colocation business and that's why we're seeing those numbers. So yes, pretty happy with that.

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Paul Mason, Evans & Partners Pty. Ltd., Research Division - Executive Director of Technology [25]

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And just sort of last one. Just on sort of M3 and S3 timing. Just wanted -- are you, kind of, expecting so that development approval process and stuff will pick up after the election? Or are you able to give any color on that sort of action?

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Craig Scroggie, NEXTDC Limited - CEO, MD & Executive Director [26]

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Yes, sure. I'll take that one as well, Paul. So S3, the Gore Hill site that we acquired pre-DA -- the design for the 80 megawatts data center is largely complete. We've been working with the council, getting our pre-DA approvals and locked in power lockdown. so we're, sort of, pretty much ready to go on S3. It just comes down to working with customers on broadcast commitments and other things that we plan. That obviously is a very large data center, getting up to an 80- to a 100-megawatt type footprint size. So they're of massive scale and so too are the type of customer commitments that we're making when we're building facilities of that size and scale. So yes, we are well down the track there. And I would expect probably not too far in the future we'll be ready to get going on S3. But yes, we continue not only to work with council on the DA approvals and design, but also with the customers on commitments. And in Melbourne, you are right, the current election, obviously, the change in government and the development approval process in the [recurring] market there was at election time. So now that we're clear of the election, we expect that we'll able to get the DA approval and site acquisition process complete. We'd like to know that obviously we're going to have approval to develop the site before we acquire it. So once we get that certainty and now that the election is locked down and Ministers have been appointed, we're now moving as quickly as we can to secure and sign the M3 site and hopefully, we do something similar to what we're in the process of doing for S3.

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Paul Mason, Evans & Partners Pty. Ltd., Research Division - Executive Director of Technology [27]

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And just one last follow-on for that, though. Could I just ask you, with your CapEx guidance, does [rents] still have a component for M3 land in it? I think it was flagged as having a undisclosed component when we last spoke, but yes just want to check if there's any change there at all?

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Craig Scroggie, NEXTDC Limited - CEO, MD & Executive Director [28]

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No change, and it does.

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Operator [29]

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Your next question is from Mitch Sonogan from Macquarie Group.

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Mitchell Sonogan, Macquarie Research - Analyst [30]

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Just a quick question. I couldn't see it anywhere. Are you going to give me the actual impact of the accounting changes on the first half '19 results in terms of revenue EBITDA and NPAT, please?

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Oskar Tomaszewski, NEXTDC Limited - CFO [31]

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No, we're not.

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Mitchell Sonogan, Macquarie Research - Analyst [32]

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Well, looking back at your FY '18 presentation, it had some guidance there. But that was only [in May]

(technical difficulty)

at the time. So I just want to know whether those estimates have changed or is that an expected change that it can flow through? And just maybe the, I guess, contribution to the first half versus second half?

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Oskar Tomaszewski, NEXTDC Limited - CFO [33]

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Yes, Mitch. If we turn back to the Page 22 of our FY '18 results, we gave guidance on the both sets of accounting standards. We've given disclosure around the slight adjustment to the revenue guidance for reasons we've already explained. Other than that, the goal is unchanged. Beyond that, there's certainly more detail as to the question. I think the (inaudible) Craig lined up a bit later on today.

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Mitchell Sonogan, Macquarie Research - Analyst [34]

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And then maybe Craig, just trying to get a feel for the activity in the Melbourne hyperscale market just over the last 12 to 18 months, it looks like that's pulled through, as you said before, that's within that 0.1 megawatt added to M2 over the last 6 months. Can you give sort of a sense as to how many hyperscale tenders that you might have worked on in terms of volume? And what you think might have gone into the market over that time to competitors?

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Craig Scroggie, NEXTDC Limited - CEO, MD & Executive Director [35]

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Not sure that number makes any sense. But in terms of activity in the local market, there's really only 2 zones, we created the third within 2. Obviously, declaring ourselves having 1 or 2 big [papers] in the hyperscale puzzle in Melbourne today and then the other 6 of the hyperscale puzzle being out in Western Sydney. We see plenty of activity there, but again, in similar fashion to what I described earlier, it's probably a generation 2 style of deployment. So as far as scale is in that 1 to 5 megawatt range versus in Sydney in the 5 to 10-plus megawatt band. So I would expect that Melbourne has an opportunity to continue to grow and as the next refresh in infrastructure comes around, the larger initial deployments for first-generation. The deployments will grow materially in size. But at this point in time, we build enough capacity to serve the retail market and once we have a high degree of confidence on the customer commitment to Melbourne, we'll commit to build more. And that's obviously part of our M3 planning process, clearly size and scale footprint for M3 and anticipate some larger declines. And we continue to work closely with customers from a planning point of view. But you're talking about 10-plus year planning windows on the size of M3 and S3 deployments and those customers are maybe getting into 10- or 15-year tender commitments. They're quite large and long and detailed negotiation processes. Because that's a lifetime, 10 years' investment in our industry and certainly securing contracts in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars for decade-plus long commitments that take some time. So we continue to be disciplined and patient and work closely with the clients on building something that's unique to support our business growth.

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Mitchell Sonogan, Macquarie Research - Analyst [36]

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Okay. And just I guess I'm looking from FY '18 notes supporting that the watts contracted in M1 at [$0.72 million] so it's 14.7 and at the first half it's up to 14.8 in Melbourne. So just wondering about how this increase should expect to see into firming terms of contracted utilization out here in the next 12, 24 months?

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Craig Scroggie, NEXTDC Limited - CEO, MD & Executive Director [37]

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It's a difficult question to answer simply because on a retail point of view, as you know retail tends to be fairly simple to forecast. We know we've got a based underlying. So if run rate continue to perform, if hyperscale does what hyperscale will do, and that is accompanying very large lumps, that's pretty difficult to forecast. So unfortunately, I can be sure of one thing and that it is going to grow. I just can't exactly be sure of when and to what extent. So like I said, it was 5 megawatts, it could be 10 or it could be 20. Unfortunately, it's just not something that we're capable of knowing with certainty. But we are planning, importantly, to be able to take advantage of those sized opportunities because those type of opportunities do exist in the market. But a longer-term question will be, do they meet our return expectations? Do we remain disciplined in how we deploy our capital? And do we remain disciplined in our rate of returns?

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Operator [38]

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Your next question is from Nick Harris from Morgans.

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Nick Harris, Morgans Financial Limited, Research Division - Senior Analyst [39]

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I'm just interested in Perth. There's a few interesting things going on there at the moment. You've got 1 or nearly 2 submarine cables live there. Just wondering, do you have any, sort of, visibility on what hyperscalers are doing? And is there a potential for Perth to actually pick up over an availability zone like Sydney? And then, my second question is just also on Perth. Obviously, you'ev turned on a microsite really quickly, I'm just trying to understand, is that a really timing thing to, obviously, buy you time as you build P2? Or is this a potential for the next (inaudible) to, I guess, get ahead of the next wave which is, sort of, 5G-edge computing stuff? Is there a little bit more to that microsite?

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Craig Scroggie, NEXTDC Limited - CEO, MD & Executive Director [40]

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It's Craig, I'll take that. Great question. And so let me try and work through that. There's a lot of detail in. But first of all, the cables, yes, look, we were thrilled, obviously to be able to work with [Drew Kelton] and his team at [Sippowitz] to secure the Indigo cable and obviously [with R-net] and a bunch of other key telco plays in there. Being able to connect Singapore to Perth, to Sydney, on the lowest latency route, [naturally] exciting for the team. That initially drove us accelerating the program of works with the microsite. But what you see, if you visit Perth and visit P2, the site is just an absolute cracker. It's just a short walk over the beach from the Perth mall, it's beautifully positioned, great location. So I couldn't be more excited about what's actually happening in Perth in the enterprise market. Now having just recently announced that we signed a contract with Microsoft to have Microsoft in Perth after having not long earlier than that announced that we had signed a contract with Amazon to take Amazon in the Perth. So building that retail colo business is very network-centric with those big global cloud platforms for there on ramp. So there's a huge in-force. So fantastic result there. The team has done an incredible job. They continue to build out that value. And that drives our ecosystem that's being reflected in the growth. So our connectivity numbers and for all of those that work in the engineering team to build the Axon product. That's why we continue to focus on our differentiated business model which we're passionate about of solving that problem for our customers. That is a real critical and complicated thing to evolve and if we keep doing a good job there, we should continue very strong growth both in numbers and in price reflected in our retail strategy. The cable piece is very important. As you know, Nick, because you cover the telco industry, submarine cables in the data center industry are data center fairy dust. And when we get a submarine cable, this is really great news. So the opportunity that, that opens up with the international customers coming into the Perth market and then making their way to Sydney is pretty exciting. So having that opportunity is critical, but as you alluded to, the work and development that we've done on microsite strategy, so rapid access connectivity hubs, we call them. The 5G and emerging component of the 5G actually work closes with partners to, sort of, design how we can solve this problem. Deploying microsites into a large number of locations may very well end up being an important requirement for data centers in a regional context. Because we spent the best part of 12 to 18 months, research and development team, specifically on the engineering side in partnership with company that we collected a global leader and development of those called Flexenclosure in Sweden. And the Flexenclosure team worked closely with our team for 12 to 18 months to develop that product and we're now capable of being able to deploy that product into any region or any location as a full rapid access connectivity microsite. So we did see that as a quite an interesting emerging opportunity. We think that is going to be client-led, with some of the investments that we're making in that area that allow us to work more closely with regional areas. So you'll see that yesterday the New South Wales government made an announcement for $100 million allocated to regional data centers. So we've planning and expected to see not only a large number connectivity points to support the growth of the digital economy being made in regional areas around Australia, but regional areas right across Asia. So we see the microsite strategy and having a product that's differentiate and networks-centric and obviously Tier 3 and Tier 4 we're building it to the standard that we've become renowned for building in the industry. That's a really important piece of our strategy. So yes, Nick. You're right, there will be more that we'll share on the microsite strategy coming because we see it as an interesting opportunity to support the edge growth of data centers, the IoT deployments to regional areas whether it's being deployed in autonomous vehicles and other things. Compute continues to need to go close to the user, both not only the download of data, but creation and the upload of it. Last point on the hyperscale side obviously, the total size and scale of the P2 development, it will be a continuous development methodology site. So we will build the site in stages. We won't deploy all the capital. Again and we did see an opportunity for many units with countries in Asia, whether that's in Singapore, Hong Kong land prices are very high. Data center prices are high relative to what we could secure in the Australian market. So therefore it stands to reason that it would make sense if you had diverse cable routes and latency wasn't an issue that you would be in a politically stable, comfortable environment that had a reasonable energy pricing and cable connectivity both in and out of Australia to Asia and U.S. So hyperscale is an opportunity there. We just saw Equinix recently announced an investment in the Perth market as well. So yes, that's continued to also give us confidence that there may be some hyperscale development in Perth in the coming period.

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Operator [41]

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Your next question is from Bob Chen from Deutsche Bank.

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Bob Chen, Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division - Former Research Associate [42]

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I have just a questions on enterprise market. Are you seeing any sort of uptick in activity in that type of market? Just looking at sort of the run rate, enterprise deals that you're winning. It's sort of tracking at 2, 3 megawatts a year and has been tracking at that for a little while, so.

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Craig Scroggie, NEXTDC Limited - CEO, MD & Executive Director [43]

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Yes. So the enterprise market, obviously, is a long sales cycle for our customers currently and that is from the time you first engage the customer. What drives the moving of the data center largely is that they're moving office. So a lot of their legacy infrastructure is located in their office building in their [CBD]. And they're moving offices so that's generally an 18- to 24-month planning window. And we start working with the customer design. The data center, in itself is not massively complicated. But where the real value comes is the customer being able to then connect to the public and private cloud infrastructure that we host which is why the retail colocation data center that has diverse ecosystems and cloud on that become very compelling from the client's point of view. Because they're able to get material cost savings. So, both in a telco context, metro fiber is cheaper in a data center. But connecting to the cloud platform is cheaper in the data center as well because you're not then paying for metro fiber out to the cloud as well. You're actually buying it direct cross connect either in an elastic cross connect, or a physical cross connect in the data center. And when you've got the cloud in the data center that's going to be not only the lowest latency, but the lowest cost path to connect to the cloud. So enterprise takes time. The run rate and size of the enterprise business has been consistent. And as I mentioned earlier, it's going to be a cheaper alternative that we continue to see the benchmarks candid in retail colocation industry with Equinix and really ourselves and Equinix tend to be on both ends of the deal. So it's been consistent, it will continue to grow, very few companies wanting to build and operate their own data center, certainly in building when they've got an average 5- and 6-star ratings in green energy requirements, EFG and carbon sustainability standards. That's also why we made an announcement calling our carbon-neutral. We're now in cost of credits so we're carbon-neutral as a company for the next [DT]. We'll offer our customers the ability to be able to offset their carbon as well for their data center footprint. And then we're expanding out our investments into our solar array to the renewable energy space to bring a more PPA-style partnership agreements as we've done with the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project in partnership with NAB and Australia Post and others. So expect more of those. And I expect it to be very important to the enterprise customers and they're selecting the right long term data center partner because they want to know that not only are they getting a world-class product, but they're getting world-class sustainability and operational credentials to support them for the long term as well.

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Bob Chen, Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division - Former Research Associate [44]

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Sure. And then just in terms of the overall competitive environment especially in the Sydney and Melbourne markets. I mean we've seen quite a lot of investment from some of your competitors, including Equinix just recently. Has that had any sort of impact on, sort of, your business?

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Craig Scroggie, NEXTDC Limited - CEO, MD & Executive Director [45]

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Yes, I saw -- obviously, recently caught up with the Equinix guys and caught up with the digital realty just recently. But the key players all continue to invest. But look, I see that investment as a good thing. From a competitive point of view, people tend to sort of see investments and think that means we're going to be up against more price competition and losing an opportunity. But one thing that's important to continue to remember about data centers is it's not a zero sum game. We're not selling [widgets]. Where the data center is located is critically important. Customers generally need 2 or 3 or more locations. In a lot of cases, when we're working with a client, we are working collaboratively with the client, but they're also selecting one or even 2 competitors at the same time. So price does play a role and obviously we are not a price-led company. We are an operation centers-of-excellence level organization. We focus on Tier 4 data center products, the highest standard in the industry. The highest level of operational excellence in customer service. And we are a premium price. But customers will choose multiple locations. They'll choose multiple providers and in the majority of cases, we tend to see good competitors that are continuing to keep us focused on building a better quality product and being more disciplined about how we run our company.

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Bob Chen, Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division - Former Research Associate [46]

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And then maybe for you, Oskar. Just looking at the guidance for the full year. It seems to imply that there's margin compression in the second half. I mean I would have thought that acquiring APDC and (inaudible) facility, rental costs there would have flown through into sort of better margins?

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Oskar Tomaszewski, NEXTDC Limited - CFO [47]

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Yes, thanks Bob. We weren't shuffling for much in line with expectations. There can be some seasonality in some part of running costs. There's a whole bunch of different factors underpinning that. That could be software costs, there could be [direct-in] costs, engineering and maintenance and so on and so forth. So we're pretty much tracking exactly in line with where we said we would at this time.

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Operator [48]

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Our next question is from [Wayne Afa] From (inaudible).

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Unidentified Participant, [49]

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When will the company finally make some decent profits? And what are you going to do to get there? Every year equity (inaudible) we see figures on utilization. Over 6 months, utilization is 90%. You're always in the high 80s and that's pretty good. But even if you got to 100% utilization, that wouldn't significantly increase the profit. So we've got assets of $1.7 billion and we've got no profit and we've got no return on equity. Now I noticed there's been references to your competitor, Equinix. And I noticed in the past year they've recently reported profit of 7% of revenue. So what's NEXTDC going to do to finally generate some decent profits for shareholders?

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Oskar Tomaszewski, NEXTDC Limited - CFO [50]

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Thanks for your question. The answer is a long one. But in summary form, we're essentially continuing to invest. If you look at Equinix's performance, they're at a similar state of development of NEXTDC's development at the moment, it's very true, we're investing a lot of capital for future growth. We are building the platform for future expansion and there is no other way of taking advantage of market opportunities other then investing upfront. We could slow down, we could stop growing, we could start generating large profits, but then we would miss out on all the growth that's happening in the market.

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Unidentified Participant, [51]

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Is the company actually under-charging?

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Oskar Tomaszewski, NEXTDC Limited - CFO [52]

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No look, if you have a look at what's driving a lot of our costs below EBITDA, it's interest costs as we take on more debt to fund the ongoing development of future data centers as well as the associated depreciation. Each new incremental data center that we build is larger than the previous one so, case in point, in Sydney, the first generation of data centers, 16 megawatts still to the second generation it's 40 megawatts. When we get around to the third generation it's an 80 megawatts facility. The market is expanding and we are investing to take advantage of the opportunity and unfortunately in the business, we have to invest our funds and start incurring the costs until the benefits start coming through. But if you look at the excerpts that we include in our results, every 6 months, you can see the trend historically through the first generation site. We're experiencing very similar trends in our second generation facilities and third generation facilities.

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Unidentified Participant, [53]

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And is there any plan when the company might actually be paying dividends?

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Oskar Tomaszewski, NEXTDC Limited - CFO [54]

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That's ultimately a matter for the board. But at this stage, there are no specific plans to start paying dividends.

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Operator [55]

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We have further questions from Tim Plumbe from UBS Investment Bank

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Tim Plumbe, UBS Investment Bank, Research Division - Former Director and Research Analyst [56]

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Just a follow-up from me. Craig, cross connects at 7.7% of revenue at the moment. Can you give us a sense of how you are thinking about a little bit longer term given the mix of customer base you've gotten and maybe you can split it out kind of against your old generation data centers compared to new generation data centers obviously going to have a different customer or megawatt mix there?

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Craig Scroggie, NEXTDC Limited - CEO, MD & Executive Director [57]

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Yes, thanks Tim. So obviously, that growth in cross connects, if you go back a few years, when all this started obviously, very low percentage. It has continued to grow. I expect it will continue to grow. It's going to depend on the maybe it's [15%] over time. Potentially, yes. We've been very focused on that retail colocation strategy. We're also focused strategically on building the most diverse ecosystem of public and private cloud providers and the on-ramps. Also the content delivery networks, so as you attract more network service providers to your ecosystem and they can be traditional telcos like Telstra and Optus and Vocus or we'd partner and continue to do great work with our teams today. They can be the new digital age of born in the cloud network service providers like Megaport and [Packettackit] And others. So we continue to see that growth. We look at all of those providers as a great opportunity to continue to diversify and grow the breadth of our service ecosystem. The more of the service we have in our data centers, the more choice there are for our enterprise customers on network connectivity services. And that includes everything from just buying cloud cross connect through to in provider your metro fiber, your [intercap] services or right out to your submarine cable capacity. So over time -- I can't give you the exact number Tim, but I hope certainly the team continues to grow and it will reflect our focus on being an enterprise colocation provider that builds a lot of value in public and private cloud on-ramp services.

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Operator [58]

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(Operator Instructions) There are no further questions at this time. I will hand back to Mr. Scroggie for any closing remarks thanks.

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Craig Scroggie, NEXTDC Limited - CEO, MD & Executive Director [59]

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Thanks Jody. Ladies and gents, thank you for joining the call today. Obviously I'd like to thank all of our investors for their continued support. But it would be remiss of me not to sincerely thank all of our team members at NEXTDC who are working very hard to build this amazing extraordinary platform. Very proud of what the company has achieved and the efforts that all of them have continued to make. Not only is it our largest sales half in the company's history, but obviously our largest operational half. The biggest number of cross connects, the largest number of customers serving more than 1,000 enterprises today. So very pleased with where the business is and as we continue to grow and scale, and see enormous opportunity in front of us to continue to take advantage of. So thank to the team, thanks to you for your continued support and interest in the company. Bye for now.

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Operator [60]

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That does conclude our today's call. Thank you all for participating. You may now disconnect.