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Eurobites: M&A Speculation Circles Colt

Paul Rainford
4/23/2014
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Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Ericsson reports Q1; Orange lines up man from the ministry; Spirent profits up; Russia's Zuckerberg does a runner.

  • Financial analysts are hinting that Colt Technology Services Group Ltd (London: COLT) might be sold following Tuesday's first-quarter financials and the announcement of a strategic shift that will see the service provider withdraw from the majority of its wholesale voice deals. The Guardian reports that analysts believe Colt's majority owner, Fidelity Investments, might be running out of patience with the operator and may look to sell its near 65% stake. Colt's share price stood almost unchanged at 130 pence Wednesday morning on the London Stock Exchange, giving the operator a market value of about £1.16 billion (US$1.95 billion). (See Eurobites: Colt Cuts Back on Carrier Voice Deals.)

  • Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) saw its share price slide by more than 4% as it reported a 9% year-on-year decrease in first-quarter revenues to 47.5 billion Swedish kronor (US$7.24 billion), but the vendor's margins have improved and it is predicting better sales numbers for the second half of this year. (See Ericsson Looks to Future as Q1 Sales Slump.)

  • Orange (NYSE: FTE) CEO Stephane Richard is looking to beef up his management team with the addition of France's current Treasury chief, Ramon Fernandez, reports the Wall Street Journal. Richard was recently given at least four more years in charge by the Orange board.

  • Spirent Communications plc (NYSE: SPM; London: SPT), the test and measurement vendor, has released its first-quarter interim financials, showing revenues up 16% year-on-year to $111.9 million and profits up 9% to $8.3 million. Recent contract wins include Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , which chose Spirent TestCenter to validate the performance of its CloudEngine data center switch. (See Spirent Reports Q1 Interim Financials .)

  • OpenCloud Ltd. , the Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) vendor that specializes in service brokers, went great guns in 2013, increasing revenues by 46% as customers looked to make the transition to IMS and VoLTE and explore the potential of WebRTC. The vendor, which doesn't provide any actual revenue numbers to go with its impressive percentages, says the early indications are that its growth spurt will continue in 2014. (See OpenCloud Boasts Strong Growth in 2013, Vodafone Egypt Deploys OpenCloud, and Building a Business Case for VoLTE.)

  • Things aren't quite so rosy at TeliaSonera AB (Nasdaq: TLSN): The Nordic operator reports first-quarter revenues down 2.5% to 23.97 billion Swedish kronor ($3.65 billion), while EBITDA slipped 1.9% to SEK8.34 billion ($1.27 billion). In his statement accompanying the results, President and CEO Johan Dennelind pointed the finger at "changing customer behavior and an evolving convergence trend." He also criticized the recent European Parliament vote in favor of net neutrality, saying that "this may limit the possibilities for us to meet demand from our customers." (See TeliaSonera Reports Q1.)

  • Pavel Durov, the founder of Russian social network VKontakte, has left the country after being "fired" as two allies of President Putin took control of the social media operation, report TechCrunch and the BBC, among others. The Facebook-like site had apparently got up the President's nose by giving free rein to voices critical of the Moscow regime.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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    Vishnu Goel
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    Vishnu Goel,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    4/25/2014 | 8:12:59 AM
    Re: Spirent ?
    The logical question now for this T&M company should be if it will pass the 1 Billion mark on its own? Will it use its cash for adjacencies business,or develop new blades/software platforms? M&A can be the next steps.Vishnu Goel T&M +919810101238
    Gabriel Brown
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    Gabriel Brown,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    4/24/2014 | 3:43:36 AM
    Re: Does the speculation make sense?
    Vodafone has bags of cash, is known to be in the market for wireline properties, and has big ambitions in enterprise. Maybe now's a good time to sell?
    Ray@LR
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    Ray@LR,
    User Rank: Blogger
    4/23/2014 | 7:59:36 AM
    Does the speculation make sense?
    Re Colt - Fidelity is the majority shareholder and has been for some time. It has major representation on the board and surely the latest strategy decisoin has been discussed and approved at board level. I am not a financial analyst but if Fidelity wants to sell its stake in Colt I can't see that this would be a good time to do it -- if the new strategy pays off and in a year's time the margins are up and Colt is striking voice deals with enterprises at decent margins, then surely that's the time to sell up? Maybe I'm missing something. 
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