Cable Tech

Tellabs Buys AFC for $1.9 Billion

Billion-dollar buyouts are back on the telecom agenda. Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA) announced this morning it is buying access equipment vendor Advanced Fibre Communications Inc. (AFC) (Nasdaq: AFCI) in a stock and cash deal worth $1.9 billion (see Tellabs to Acquire AFC).

The move comes only three months after Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) announced a $4 billion takeover (see Juniper Buys NetScreen).

Today's announcement shouldn't come as a shock, as Light Reading has been writing about a potential deal for months (see Tellabs Angling for Access – and AFC, Talk of AFC Deal Is Back , and AFC Chief Says Sale Makes Sense). Analysts say a major factor in the agreement may have been AFC's need for a larger partner to go after FTTP deals at large RBOCs, such as those developing at Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) (see Verizon's FTTP Demo Helps AFC and Verizon Flaunts Fiber Plan).

AFC's stock was trading up $2.01 (12%) to $18.84 in morning trading, reflecting a premium in the price offered over yesterday's stock price.

The news was not well received by all investors. Tellabs' share price fell $1.22 (13%) to $7.97 in morning trading.

Tellabs and AFC executives say the motivation for the deal is to tap into the booming broadband market.

"Marrying the leader in access with the leader in transport positions us to grow with our customers in the industry's sweet spot of broadband services," said Tellabs CEO and president Krish Prabhu in a prepared statement. "Together, Tellabs and AFC create a strategic global telecom equipment supplier that will lead the industry's shift to broadband data with end-to-end access and transport solutions."

Under the terms of the transaction, AFC stockholders will receive 1.55 shares of Tellabs common stock and $7.00 in cash for each AFC share. Based on Tellabs' closing price yesterday, the deal is valued at $1.9 billion.

Once the acquisition is completed, Tellabs stockholders will own approximately 75 percent of the company and AFC stockholders the remaining 25 percent. The acquisition is set to close in the second half of 2004.

AFC's CEO John Schofield will become chief operating officer and a director of Tellabs once the deal is completed. The combined company will employ about 4,100 staff around the world.

Rumors of the Tellabs/AFC combination first surfaced in January 2004, when the access gear vendor was valued at more than $2 billion. Since then AFC's stock price tumbled from a high of $27.50 to around $15.50, giving it a market capitalization of $1.4 billion and making an acquisition more attractive. Tellabs' stock had held steady, helped by the fact that the company posted its first profit in two years last quarter (see Tellabs Returns to Profit).

Light Reading will update this story as more information becomes available.

— Pauline Rigby, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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