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Optical/IP

Fixed Wireless IPOs Heat Up

Nestled in the crowded IPO calendar this week are two Israeli fixed wireless vendors, adding an interesting mix to the broadband market.

Floware Wireless Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: FLRE) debuted on Wedesday at $13 a share and rose to $21.50 before dropping down to $18.25 in afternoon trading, ending almost 40 percent up from its start. With only $3.3 million in revenues and nearly triple that in losses for 1999 ($9.4 million), the company sold 4.5 million shares and ended with an $82 million market cap. Credit Suisse First Boston managed the deal.

Giganet Ltd. (Nasdaq: GGNT) another Israeli fixed wireless player, priced its shares on Thursday night at $17 by its lead banker Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. On its first of day trading, shares rose to a high of $30 before dipping back and closing at $22.50. With 5 million shares sold, Giganet ended the day with about $112 million.

Both vendors provide radio frequency equipment for broadband fixed wireless services. Customers are primarily telecom providers and competitive local exchange carriers. Operating in what is considered in broad terms as the LMDS (Local Multipoint Distribution Services) frequency bands (10 Ghz to 28 Ghz), these systems can provide high-speed access up to 155 Mbit/s, putting them head to head with current leased line, DSL, and even fiber services (see Wireless Wonders).

Giganet had $4.5 million in revenue for 1999 -- about $1 million dollars more than Floware had -- and it had $6.3 million in losses, nearly $3 million less than Floware. But Jeff Hirschkorn, senior market analyst with IPO.com, predicted that Floware would have the stronger showing, because of its tight relationship with major investor Siemens AG. Not only is the telecom giant the principal investor in the company, it also has an exclusive reseller agreement with Floware. Sales from this agreement accounted for the majority of Floware’s revenue in 1999, according to the company’s F-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"They’ve [Floware] had a solid debut," says Hirschkorn. "Having Siemens as a big stockholder and this reseller agreement helps them a lot. Giganet is a nice addition to the calendar, but I think Floware will do better."

Judging from the success of fellow Israeli fixed wireless vendor, BreezeCom (Nasdaq: BRZE), both companies could continue to do very well. BreezeCom debuted on the Nasdaq in March and surged ahead 65 percent over its $20 offering price, recently trading at $33 a share. Last month the company reported its first profitable quarter ever.

-- Marguerite Reardon, senior editor, Light Reading, http://www.lightreading.com

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