Oracle Corp. opened the week with a US$1.7 billion bang by announcing an agreement to acquire IP networking systems specialist Acme Packet Inc. for $29.25 per share, a 22 percent premium over Acme's closing price Friday of $23.93.
The deal values Acme Packet at $2.1 billion, but Oracle will be shelling out about $1.7 billion once the value of Acme's cash, short-term investments and other assets are taken into account.
The news sent Acme's share price soaring by 22.4 percent to $29.30, slightly above the agreed purchase price.
Acme is the long-term leader in the market for session border controllers (SBCs), which manage IP traffic at the borders of networks (where carrier networks intersect and where carrier networks connect with enterprise networks). It has 1,900 customers and has its technology deployed at 89 of the world's top 100 communication service providers (CSPs).
That technology will become increasingly important in the mobile world as SBCs play a critical role in the IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) architecture that's set to be adopted by many major wireless operators as they enable 4G voice services (otherwise known as Voice over LTE) on their networks.
Acme Packet, which just announced revenues of $274.4 million and a net loss of $5.2 million for the full year 2012, is also active in the growing and important market for Diameter signaling controllers. (See Diameter Matters.)
Oracle says it plans to combine Acme's portfolio with the various Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) capabilities (multiple OSS and BSS products) its Oracle Communications unit already offers to CSPs.
Why this matters
Acme is embedded in the core networks of the world's largest network operators and, with its expertise in SIP voice traffic management and understanding of carrier network developments, is on course to become an even more invaluable supplier as 4G voice services are developed by mobile operators. It's also an important partner for many major equipment and software vendors.
Oracle clearly sees Acme as a way to develop deeper ties with the CSP community and leverage Acme's installed base to introduce its range of software and IT products, especially as cloud service architectures and Big Data analytics strategies take hold in the telecom sector.
It also signals Oracle's entry into the dedicated telecom infrastructure market, prompting the questions of whether this is the first of multiple strategic telecom equipment acquisitions for Oracle and whether it might lead other major IT/software players to follow suit.
The move will likely also affect some of Acme's existing partnerships, especially those with the likes of Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM Corp..
â€” Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading