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Siris Capital Takes Xura Private in $643M Deal

Ray Le Maistre

There's never a dull moment where the company now known as Xura is involved: Following a few years of selling and buying various assets, it's been acquired by Siris Capital Group for $643 million.

Xura Inc. , which specializes in messaging, voice applications and unified communications systems, used to be called Comverse: It changed its name in September 2015 following the acquisition of IP messaging platform vendor Acision. (See Comverse Shells Out $135M for Acision.)

Prior to that, Comverse had gone through a few years of turmoil, trying to leverage its billing, customer care, voice apps and messaging system know-how to go toe-to-toe in the business and applications support systems market with the likes of Amdocs and Oracle.

In the end it sold its BSS assets to Amdocs and focused on messaging, a business that generated revenues of $271 million in the financial year to the end of January 2016, which included only a few months of Acision revenues. (See Amdocs Splashes $272M on Comverse's BSS.)

But despite those quite impressive sales numbers the company has been struggling to turn a profit, having reported an operating loss of $66 million for that most recent full financial year. That's a whopping 24% negative operating margin.

The team at Siris Capital, though, clearly feel there's money to be made now that Acision is fully integrated: Sales for the current financial year from Xura's 300+ customers are set to be in the range of $340-370 million and the margins are expected to improve.

And there's a familiar name involved in the deal: Former Alcatel-Lucent CFO Hubert de Pesquidoux is an executive partner at Siris Capital and becomes executive chairman of Xura. (See AlcaLu's CFO Signs Off.)

Philippe Tartavull, who has been CEO since April 2012, believes that going private will enable the company to focus on its business rather than being a slave to the financial markets. Following the completion of the Siris Capital acquisition, Tartavull noted in this blog that "Xura will no longer be a publicly traded company, creating a setting that is more conducive to focusing on our customers, and enabling us to continue to develop game-changing technology … Siris is aligned with Xura in its understanding that continued investment and customer partnerships are instrumental to delivering world-class solutions."

With the backing of Siris Capital, the CEO now believes that Xura can "accelerate our strategy to bring best-in-class messaging, voicemail, security, and monetization solutions to our customers. This investment not only offers Xura increased financial stability, but is a fantastic opportunity to expand our reach and bolster our position as an industry-leading company with digital innovation and customers at its core."

For more on what's happening in the mobile applications and services sector, check out our dedicated mobile services content channel here on Light Reading.

Key to Xura's growth? Virtualization. And it's already been established, following an extensive survey conducted by Heavy Reading, that the vast majority of communications service providers (CSPs) plan to virtualize at least some of their messaging platforms during the next four years. (See this press release for full details of the survey's results.)

Xura feels it's well positioned to help with those virtualization plans, but it's not alone: Oracle (which acquired Tekelec some years ago), Openmind Networks and Symsoft are amongst those that will be competing in the messaging platform sector, while Xura's push into WebRTC and RCS (rich communication services) will see it compete with the likes of Genband, Dialogic and Twilio.

The first job that de Pesquidoux and Tartavull might want to think about is creating broader awareness of the company: Comverse was a known name (albeit one tarnished by former CEO and fugitive Kobi Alexander) -- Xura is not.

— Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
8/23/2016 | 4:18:50 PM
Re: Siris must be confident
Siris seems to be on a UC shopping expedition: Siris Snatches Up Polycom, Leaving Mitel Bereft
User Rank: Blogger
8/23/2016 | 1:06:47 PM
Siris must be confident
The Siris Capital team must be confident that Xura is well placed to win a lot of business at decent margins in the next few years and make this a company that is valued at more than $1 billion - otherwise, why would they bother buying it?

That means that Xura is going to have to do something it hasn't done for quite some time - start making a lot of money.
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