Spirent Loses on Wireless Unit Sale
Spirent Communications plc (NYSE: SPM; London: SPT) has sold wireless video test business SwissQual Holding AG for a fraction of the price it paid for the business just 18 months ago, the company announced today. (See Spirent Sells Unit.)
In January 2006 Spirent bought SwissQual for 62.5 million Swiss francs ($51.3 million), with additional payments of up to CHF28 million ($23 million) to be made if certain financial and technical milestones were achieved. Now, though, Spirent has offloaded the business to unidentified "private investors" for just $3 million in cash. (See Spirent Buys Wireless Test Firm.)
While Spirent noted last January that SwissQual was "a profitable and fast growing business" that was expected to enhance earnings in 2006, it now says the wireless test unit "has been operating unprofitably, with losses continuing through the first half of 2007." (See Spirent to Buy SwissQual.)
Spirent reported goodwill impairments against the SwissQual business in its 2006 financial report, and noted today that it would "record a loss on disposal" of about £5.5 million ($7.5 million) this year as a result of the divestment.
The sale is part of new chairman Edward Bramson's strategy to boost Spirent's profits. Bramson, who took control of the company late last year and ousted the CEO, is already implementing a new restructuring program, and is currently formulating a "Strategic Review" that focuses on "balance sheet structure and other matters." (See Spirent Makes Deeper Cuts , Spirent Suffers Boardroom Coup , and Spirent Spikes CEO .)
In a prepared statement, Bramson noted: "The sale of SwissQual releases resources for use in Spirent's core businesses and it provides continuity for the customers and employees of SwissQual." (See Siemens Tests Mobile Quality and O2 Tests With Spirent.)
Spirent executives were unavailable for comment, so it's unclear whether the sale means the test vendor no longer has mobile video quality test capabilities, or whether the APEX Wireless Multimedia Analyzer product announced in February this year was developed separately and is not part of the sale. (See Spirent Evaluates Mobile Video.)
Spirent is the subject of much speculation in the test sector, with many believing the new board is preparing the company for a sale, though the company's president and COO, Rob Piconi, told Light Reading recently that isn't the strategy. (See Spirent: We're Not Prepping for Sale.)
Spirent's share price edged up 1.6 percent today to 77.5 pence on the London Stock Exchange , just more than double the share price (37 pence) a year ago.
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading