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Fujitsu Invests in Meriton

Light Reading
Supercomm News Analysis
Light Reading
4/29/2005

Fujitsu Ltd. (OTC: FJTSY; Tokyo: 6702) has made a "strategic investment" in metro WDM vendor Meriton Networks Inc. to help the Canadian vendor set up operations in the U.K.

The catalyst for the investment is Fujitsu's role in BT Group plc's (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) $19 billion 21st Century Network build-out. Fujitsu included Meriton's technology as part of its successful access infrastructure bid, and has invested in the optical gear maker to help it build a support and marketing team in Britain (see BT Unveils 21CN Suppliers and Fujitsu Shares Its 21CN Success).

"It's correct that Fujitsu has made a strategic investment in Meriton to help us operationally," says president Michael Gassewitz, though neither he nor Fujitsu will give financial details. "This will help us add to our existing sales force in the U.K. and build a team of support and marketing staff, though I wouldn't want to say how many people that might be," he adds, before conceding that the likely number will be between 20 and 50 people. There are no plans to manufacture any equipment in Britain, he notes.

Gassewitz says the new team will support Meriton in any further European deployments. "The BT announcement will increase our opportunities at other carriers, and sends a signal to the rest of Europe that we're on to something." He couldn't be more specific with operator names, but it's clear Meriton is hoping to ride on Fujitsu's back again at other Fujitsu Telecommunications Europe Ltd. access equipment customers: France Telecom SA (NYSE: FTE) and Portugal Telecom Group.

He also notes that "this investment doesn't preclude us forging other relationships in other geographic territories."

The Meriton man adds that the engagement at BT has resulted in some upgrades to its products, most notably the 7200 OADX metro platform. "Release 4 of the 7200, including enhancements made as a result of the work with BT, will be announced at this year's Supercomm," says Gassewitz.

Prior to the Fujitsu investment, Meriton had raised $46 million from investors such as VenGrowth Investment Fund Inc., Newbury Ventures, and Primaxis Technology Ventures Inc. (see Meriton Grabs Another $17M and Meriton Snags New Funding).

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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