Global X Makes Offer for UK's Fibernet

Global Crossing joins the UK consolidation wave with a $96.1 million offer for corporate service provider Fibernet Group

August 25, 2006

2 Min Read
Global X Makes Offer for UK's Fibernet

Global Crossing (Nasdaq: GLBC) has stepped forward with an offer for U.K. corporate services operator Fibernet Group plc (London: FIB), agreeing to shell out $96.1 million in cash. (See Global Crossing Offers to Buy Fibernet.)

In response to press speculation, Fibernet said earlier this month that it had received an offer from an unnamed suitor. (See Fibernet Confirms Approach.) The operator had previously received a takeover bid last December. (See Fibernet OKs Approach.)

Fibernet Group, in the U.K., is unrelated to the U.S.-based FiberNet Telecom Group Inc. (Nasdaq: FTGX), which is also rumored to be in play. But one has to wonder if some investors were confused this morning, as shares in Fibernet Telecom's stock rose 15 percent. (See Who's Going to Eat FiberNet?)

Global Crossing subsidiary GC Acquisitions UK Ltd. is offering 78 pence (US$1.48) per Fibernet share, a premium of 100 percent on the stock's closing price on August 8 when the approach was confirmed.

Fibernet's share price has risen steadily since then, and was up by 4.75 pence, or 6.69 percent, to 75.75 pence ($1.42) in midday trading on the London Stock Exchange .

Fibernet, which operates a national fiber network with 100 points of presence (POPs), also uses Global Crossing's network in the U.K. to offer voice and data services to corporate and carrier customers including the Bank of England, Citigroup, IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), and Carphone Warehouse Group plc (London: CPW). The operator also has nine metro area networks in the U.K. and 12 POPs in Germany.

The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter, subject to shareholder approval.

In a prepared statement, Global Crossing CEO John Legere suggested the carrier has more acquisitions in its future: "As the telecommunications industry continues to consolidate, we'll capitalize on select opportunities to augment our customer base, extend our reach and capabilities, and grow..."

The U.K. service provider market is in the midst of a consolidation craze, as fierce competition continues to put the squeeze on margins. For the first half of the financial year ended March 31, Fibernet lamented its "disappointing results" and ongoing "lumpiness" in contract signings (See Fibernet Reports H1.) According to its most recent trading update, the third quarter saw sales "restored to a more satisfactory level." (See Fibernet Updates on Q3.)

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

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