Juniper Nabs Unisphere for $740M

Juniper Networks finally got the deal done.

After shopping around for nearly a year for the appropriate edge router partner, Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) announced today that it will buy Unisphere Networks Inc. from its parent company Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) in a combination stock and cash deal valued at $740 million (see Juniper to Buy Unisphere).

As Light Reading reported previously, talks between the two companies became more serious earlier this month, when Unisphere was reportedly asking for $1 billion (see Juniper Scoping Out Unisphere?). Juniper announced this morning that it will pay $375 million in cash and 36.5 million shares of Juniper stock. At a closing price on Friday of $9.85, that gives the deal a total value of $740 million.

The deal was primarily driven by Juniper's need for a larger presence in the red-hot edge router market and Siemens's desire to divest its interest in Unisphere, a subsidiary it set up as a spinoff. Siemens executives had recently become impatient with their inability to take Unisphere public and were more aggressively shopping the company around, according to several sources close to the companies.

Juniper also markets an edge router, but it does not include the broadband aggregation functionality that comes with Unisphere's ERX series of routers.

Some of the most important points of the deal:

  • Juniper officials say that Unisphere's books showed $200 million in revenue in 2001. That puts the deal's value of $740 million at close to four times Unisphere's sales.
  • Unisphere CEO Jim Dolce will join Juniper as an executive vice president in charge of customer relations.
  • After the deal goes through, Siemens will own 9.7% percent of Juniper's stock and will be a Juniper reseller, making it a key partner going forward.

The most surprising part of the deal may be the cash component. Juniper is parting with about a third of the billion dollars in cash it held at the end of the last quarter. Coming at a time when networking companies are going to extraordinary lengths to preserve hard currency in the rough telecom equipment market, the move weighed on Juniper stock this morning, as it lost $0.51 (5.20%), trading at $9.34.

It's a bold bet that edge routing is key to Juniper's future -- as Juniper officials will be the first to tell you. Scott Kriens, Juniper's CEO, says that Juniper was primarily attracted by Unisphere's product fit and customer base.

"They have a significant number of significant customers," said Kriens, in an interview with Light Reading this afternoon. "The market was telling us this was a natural fit."

Kriens mentioned France Telecom SA, Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), and Cable & Wireless (NYSE: CWP) as some of the significant customers that Juniper and Unisphere hold in common. In many cases, he said, the customers have been using Juniper's core routers and Unisphere's edge routers, so he sees this deal as a marriage of "best-of-breed" products. He says that Unisphere had roughly $200 million in revenues in 2001, making the deal worthwhile for shareholders.

Kriens said that Juniper's board had recently authorized using cash to buy back Juniper stock, and he saw this as a reasonable use of that cash. "It's a measure of our confidence in the combination going forward."

Some experts agree the deal is a good one for Juniper. They point to the fact that Unisphere holds many key customers, that it has managed to produce a healthy revenue stream in an unhealthy telecom market, and that its products complement Juniper's.

"This is a good deal," says Frank Duzbeck, president of Communications Network Architects. "Unisphere is doing 200 to 300 million in revenues, so the cash portion is equal to the revenue stream. They are the edge router player to fear at the moment."

When combined, Juniper and Unisphere promise to be a formidable competitor with Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) in edge routers. Market-research firm RHK Inc. recently estimated that Cisco Systems owned 74 percent of the North American edge router market in 2001. It says Juniper accounted for 19 percent of the same market, up considerably from the 6 percent it held in 2000, while Unisphere Networks had 7 percent in 2001, up from basically nothing in the previous year (see Taking Routing to the Edge).

In addition to Cisco, Juniper, and Unisphere, a raft of startups and other public players compete, including Laurel Networks Inc., Redback Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RBAK), and Riverstone Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RSTN).
In fact, this morning Riverstone and Laurel made moves in the market, as each announced enhanced support for both Layer 2 and Layer 3 MPLS VPNs in their current products (see MPLS VPNs: The Talk of Supercomm).

Juniper has largely focused on providing core IP routing technology for service providers, but in the past year has become increasingly drawn to the edge -- one of the few equipment markets that remains fairly healthy during the current telecom recession. Edge routers are key because they allow service providers and enterprises to hook up new services that will drive revenues and bandwidth going forward.

Last year Juniper looked at, and then rejected, a possible bid for Redback. It looks to have concluded that Unisphere, as one of the top three players in the market, was a more attractive candidate.

One of the X factors in the new combination will be the structure and character of the combined company. German giant Siemens will now become a 10 percent owner of Juniper's stock, and it has the potential to supply Juniper with a key sales channel, particularly in Europe. Exploiting this channel and retaining key Unisphere employees will be key to success.

Juniper this morning announced a management restructuring to pave the way for Unisphere CEO Jim Dolce to become Juniper's executive vice president of field operations, which puts him in the role of interacting with most of Juniper's customers. Lloyd Carney, Juniper's recently named COO (see Juniper Creates COO Position), will become executive vice president of operations. And Marcel Gani, Juniper's CFO, will take on the titles of both CFO and executive vice president of business systems.

One major challenge for Juniper will come in maintaining Unisphere's momentum during the integration of the companies, which includes retaining key Unisphere employees such as Dolce. Juniper is located in Sunnyvale, Calif., while Unisphere is located in Westford, Mass.

Dolce, known more as a startup entrepreneur than a big-company executive, said in an interview that he intends to stay at Juniper for a while.

"Starting companies is not the best thing to be doing right now," says Dolce. "I do intend to stay at Juniper a long time."

Siemens formed Unisphere in 1999, giving the company a bunch of cash to roll up several startups. The company recently absorbed Unisphere's voice unit prior to selling Unisphere (see Siemens Absorbs Unisphere's Voice Biz).

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.

— R. Scott Raynovich, US Editor, Light Reading
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opticaltalent 12/4/2012 | 10:22:00 PM
re: Juniper Nabs Unisphere for $740M
Congratulations to both companies. Juniper may have paid a slight premium in today's market conditions, but that definitely needed to pull the trigger if it is going to be a serious long term competitor to Cisco.

Now they have the technology and momentum, but do they have the (a) sales force that can execute??? Primarily do they have a carrier sales force who can crack wide open the Super 7???
nfoage 12/4/2012 | 10:21:59 PM
re: Juniper Nabs Unisphere for $740M As Chambers said when Lucent acquired Ascend:

"...this means one less competitor for Cisco to train our cannons on..."
Lichtverbindung 12/4/2012 | 10:21:59 PM
re: Juniper Nabs Unisphere for $740M I am a bit sad to see the Router White Knight Juniper becoming a Cisco wannabe.

I think this announcement is fairly significant as it is the first time that Juniper admits failure on its M5, M10 and M20 routers. These scaled-down version of the M40 never reached any significant market penetration at the edge.

It also proved that Junos being the reference OS for core routers, was not designed to offer the much more complex functionality required at the edge.

The next challenge for Juniper is now to be able to offer a consistent, integrated end-to-end IP routing solution combining the Redstone and Juniper OSs.

reflections 12/4/2012 | 10:21:58 PM
re: Juniper Nabs Unisphere for $740M huh?

I think you are very presumptuous in saying "Juniper admits failure" or not designed for "more complex functionality". Their boxes can do the job A LOT better than Cisco can (just ask any engineer who has lived and breathed both Cisco and Juniper... 9 out of 10 will prefer Juniper). I guess the lack of edge penetration is a result of sales/marketing (it's definitely not because of engineering). Perhaps Juniper's sales/marketing could provide more fluff (vapor-features and vapor-products do sell, just ask Cisco).

Aquiring and expanding shows that the White Knight is still alive and strong.

I'm glad someone is still trying to defeat the evil empire. Good luck Juniper, may the Force be with you.
Iipoed 12/4/2012 | 10:21:57 PM
re: Juniper Nabs Unisphere for $740M Great move, Junisphere still needs a LAN aggregation company with L 4-7 as well. Foundry or Extreme- whats the concensus?
melao 12/4/2012 | 10:21:57 PM
re: Juniper Nabs Unisphere for $740M "Aquiring and expanding shows that the White Knight is still alive and strong.
I'm glad someone is still trying to defeat the evil empire. Good luck Juniper, may the Force be with you."

I guess people just got out of Episode 2 session on the movies.

Anyway, my feel it-¦s that this bet on Unisphere makes sense if Juniper really wants to rival Cisco.
Outsider 12/4/2012 | 10:21:57 PM
re: Juniper Nabs Unisphere for $740M Should I sell my Juniper Networks stock?

The good point of this acquisition is that Juniper can compete and potentially take revenue away from Cisco in more areas. Also Juniper bought potentially the best Edge Router on the market ($127 million in sales for nine months ending in this market is quite impressive).

The bad point of this acquisition is that they gave up too much cash and further diluted their stock, plus will incur a great deal of expense. It they say the market won't pick up for the next two years then maybe Juniper could have gotten a better deal if they would have waited another year?

Okay experts and especially insiders, please speak up!
EtherNut 12/4/2012 | 10:21:56 PM
re: Juniper Nabs Unisphere for $740M Edge routers are like 2nd basemen in baseball -
You need them, you can groom any talented player to play the position and you don't pay much for them.

Fundamentally, Edge Routers will serve as Service Demarcation points (CPE is the administrative demarc) whenever xSPs begin selling interesting IP services. Edge routers are very important for network-based (aka provider provisioned) IP services. If xSPs continue to sell IP pipes, you don't really need an Edge router.

JNPR buying Unisphere simply means that it believes it can leverage Siemens sales channels outside North America - Base your stock buy/sell decision based on effectiveness of this

It also means that JNPR probably realizes that it is far easier to have a different code tree for IP edge services (specifically Layer 2) than modify the stack it has for core routers. This is just board-fodder.

kbkirchn 12/4/2012 | 10:21:56 PM
re: Juniper Nabs Unisphere for $740M lipoed:
Great move, Junisphere still needs a LAN aggregation company with L 4-7 as well. Foundry or Extreme- whats the concensus?

Extreme if they can afford it...
Lichtverbindung 12/4/2012 | 10:21:55 PM
re: Juniper Nabs Unisphere for $740M Hey reflections,

Don't get me wrong, I am a Juniper fan, they are the best thing that happened to IP routing over the last four years. That was ewntirely due to their engineering strengths (IP forwarder, Junos).

I am just a bit sad to start employing the large corp tactics (buy rather than build), it reminds me of Nortel buying Bay. It made a whole lot of sense when they announced it, look at where they are now.

Juniper knows how to build routers, not how to integrate. Bad decision, Scott...

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