It's a Telecom Cloud M&A Monday

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Not two, but two sets of companies, announced merger and acquisition deals today, November 11. Long-time business VoIP provider 8x8 bought U.K.-based Voicenet Solutions while Aastra and Mitel announced they were merging together to form a bigger Mitel. Both deals appear to be good for all involved parties.

Privately-held Voicenet is being picked up for $18.4 million in cash, with the deal expected to close by the end of the calendar year. Voicenet has been in operation since 2004, providing a range of unified communications services for both SMB and mid-market businesses.   Services mentioned in the press release included, "fixed mobile convergence applications" -- doesn't that sound last decade? -- to put desktop business phone functionality onto smartphones. It also brings an established base of over 1,000 business customers to 8x8's books.

More importantly, 8x8 gets to grow its international footprint and infrastructure. Voicenet gives 8x8 an operational presence in Europe proper to support its US customers with multinational offices and another channel for 8x8 to deliver its growing software as a service (SaaS).  Last month, 8x8 announced it had established a U.K. presence with Europe colocation provider, Interxion.

It looks like 8x8 has far bigger expansion plans in the months ahead. The company also announced a public stock offering of 12.5 million shares today. It will be interesting to see what the new shares price at since the company currently has roughly 68 million shares trading on NASDAQ at around $10 a share.

On the hardware and "we want to offer cloud too" side, Mitel acquired Aastra in a "friendly" merger valued at around $400 million. The merger creates an entity with $1.1 billion in total revenue and a $100 million cloud-based services business.   A press release boasting of the merger said the two had a combine global customer base of 60 million end users and number one market share in Western Europe.

Under the deal, Mitel will pay $6.52 in cash plus 3.6 Mitel common shares for each Aastra common share, giving shareholders about a 21 percent premium over the 30 day average.  Aastra shareholders will own around 43 percent of the combined company after the deal closes sometime in the first quarter of 2014.

The combine company will be headquartered in Ottawa, Canada and operate under the name Mitel while continuing to use the Aastra brand in select European markets. It will have a global network of more than 2,500 channel partners in more than 100 countries and there is "minimal" channel overlap between the two organizations as it services businesses of "any size, from SMB to enterprise."

Savings of around $45 million are expected over the next two years, driven by supply chain optimization, facilities consolidation and economies of scale. How this translates into personnel layoffs is unsaid at this time.

Cloud solutions got a lot of play in the Mitel-Aastra announcement. Both companies have cloud offerings, with Mitel focusing on the SMB world while Aastra had secured a number of large organization wins in cooperation with Level 3. 

There's also a bit of connection between the two announcements. Aastra has a long relationship with 8x8, supplying it with IP handsets as it started to get rolling in the business sector. Now it appears the two may be on an uncomfortable collision course, competing for the same cloud-based telephony customers around the world.




Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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