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Oak, Soros Buy Excel From Lucent

The bubble continues to deflate at Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU). Today, Lucent is announcing that it’s selling its Excel division, a company it purchased for $1.7 billion in 1999, to a group of private investors for an undisclosed amount of cash. Leading the buyout are venture capital firms Oak Investment Partners and Soros Private Equity Partners [no Website], a division of the money management organization run by legendary investor George Soros (see Lucent Sells Excel Switching Group).

The deal may work out better for everybody involved. Excel, which by most measures has remained fairly independent while owned by Lucent, will receive a new injection of cash and could be rejuvenated by becoming a private company and having a management team solely focused on its products. Lucent will shed yet another high-priced acquisition that has likely suffered in the recent downsizing, yet it will retain a relationship with Excel via a reseller agreement.

It all points to the Lucent’s move to forge ahead with an emphasis on OEM (original equipment manufacturer) reseller deals and a services business model, as witnessed by recent deals with Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) (see Lucent Partners With Juniper and Lucent & Cisco: Together at Last).

”This isn’t terribly surprising, given Lucent’s recent strategy to have OEM partnerships,” says Dan Klein, an analyst with the Yankee Group. “Lucent is really shifting its focus to services.” Marc Zionts, the former CEO of a wireless infrastructure provider Airslide Systems, will be the CEO of the newly private Excel. J.C. Murphy, a former VP with Excel who stayed through its acquisition by Lucent, will be the president.

”Lucent’s need to own Excel as a product was not as important as being the end solution provider,” said Murphy in an interview with Light Reading. “This is another move by Lucent to focus on things they do best.”

Excel will be profitable and will have about 160 employees in its new incarnation, according to the new Excel executives. In addition to having the OEM relationship with Lucent, Zionts and Murphy say the company will pursue deals with other large companies, such as Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) and Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) to develop applications that tie together both wireless and wireline IP telephony applications. Excel’s PC-based software platform, called Converged Platform Services, has been used in the telecom market for functions such as unified messaging, softswitching between TDM and IP networks, and prepaid wireless services. Recently it added compatibility with SIP and H.323 Internet conferencing standards.

One question looming is how Excel will pursue deals with companies such as Motorola, while maintaining the revenues via its Lucent OEM partnership. Motorola recently acquired its own softswitch startup, Winphoria Networks (see Motorola Eats Winphoria), and seems keen on gaining a big piece of the softswitching market.

— R. Scott Raynovich, US Editor, Light Reading

For extensive and up-to-date coverage of this week’s Supercomm tradeshow, visit Light Reading's Supercomm Preview Site.

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[email protected] 12/4/2012 | 11:58:41 PM
re: Oak, Soros Buy Excel From Lucent ... I bet it was embarrassingly low compared to the $1.7B they paid for it back in Nov. 1999. There ought to be a Harvard Business Review case study on the Lucent screw-ups. What a bunch of incompetent managers.

let-there-be-light 12/4/2012 | 11:58:41 PM
re: Oak, Soros Buy Excel From Lucent Another one of those beauts from Lucent management.

In this case, though, I have to say I have nothing to say against the Excel folks. Nicest folks you ever met and the system worked as advertised (more or less). Only problem was LU never really knew what to do with it (a bit like not knowing what to do with all that money they once had).

Excel is located in a really beautiful area (Cape Cod..), all the employees seem to have gotten a reasonable share of the 1.7 billion Lucent "kindly" donated to the local economy, plus I hear the former CEO (Bob Madonna) owned about half of the company, so he must be smiling too. Some people have all the luck....in this case, the right people got the money, though..
seeallwan 12/4/2012 | 11:58:39 PM
re: Oak, Soros Buy Excel From Lucent At least they only wasted 1.7 Billion before they got out and sold them off. Just think what they've done to the Cascade/Ascend products for 27 Billion. They've all but bowed out of access and destroyed 99% of the Core. Partnering with Juniper is a joke and sets them back to the NX/TMX days. I'm glad Lucent learnt well and keeps making the most insane decisions. They should have sold the Core Switching Division off before anything. Even Cisco offered 1 Billion for it, and Lucent snubbed their noses and said "we know Data better than anyone else". Boy, partnering really did the trick letting Juniper in the door. Wow, Bell Labs continues to impress me. Need I say more?
wilecoyote 12/4/2012 | 11:58:38 PM
re: Oak, Soros Buy Excel From Lucent Yeah, there's one word for Lucent management: IDIOCY.

They are a services company within 3 years. Watch. They'll sell off their wireless assets (or kill them off first), then sell Cascade for $100M vs the 600 they had on the table, then sell off the class 5 stuff and finally go back to where they belong: selling services. In this scenario, I think the Juniper deal makes sense for both sides.
eggfuyung 12/4/2012 | 11:58:37 PM
re: Oak, Soros Buy Excel From Lucent >> terms not disclosed ...... I bet it was embarrassingly low compared to the $1.7B they paid for it back in Nov. 1999.

FYI - According to the following news report, the price tag for Excel is approximately $15 million, or 8/1000th of what it was valued at four years ago.

==================================================

Lucent Close to Selling Hyannis, Mass., Network Switch Maker to Illinois Firm

NewsEdge/May 6, 2003 7:22pm

A mainstay of the Cape's technology industry could be sold by the end of the week for as little as 1/1000th of what it was valued at just four years ago.

Lucent Technologies is in the final stages of negotiations to sell off its Hyannis-based Excel Switching division to Airslide Systems, an Illinois-based telecommunications firm, according to sources close to Lucent.

Excel currently employs approximately 140 workers locally. The division develops programmable switches, which are used in voice and Internet protocol networks.

Spokesmen for both Lucent and Airslide declined to officially confirm or deny the negotiations or potential terms between the two companies.

But a source close to the talks said negotiations were in the final stages.

"We're probably going to be signing an agreement this week," said the source who asked to remain anonymous.

Former employees also said the talks were near completion.

The source close to the talks said further layoffs were not part of the ongoing negotiations between Lucent and Excel's potential new owner. Last week, Lucent reduced head count at Excel by approximately 40.

"There's not going to be another round of job cuts," he said, adding that that after the sale, the division will continue to be known as Excel under new ownership.

Several former Excel employees said the current asking price is approximately $15 million, a figure spokesmen at Lucent and Airslide declined to confirm or deny.

In August 1998, Lucent announced plans to acquire Excel -- then an independent company -- for a total of $1.7 billion in Lucent stock. At the time, Lucent shares were trading at $66.50 and Excel employed more than 400 workers at its Hyannis facility.

Since then, Lucent has fallen on hard times as demand for telecommunications products has slackened. The company's stock closed at $2.04 a share yesterday.

Meanwhile, the ranks of employees at Excel have dwindled as its parent company has slashed its payroll count through a series of lay-offs.
BobbyMax 12/4/2012 | 11:58:34 PM
re: Oak, Soros Buy Excel From Lucent One of the world's most influential companies have been broght down by fotune seekers, stock options addicted and back door entry to the management of the company.

Paying $24 Billion to acquire Ascend and nearly $9 Billion dollars to acq
whatsgoingon_03 12/4/2012 | 11:58:32 PM
re: Oak, Soros Buy Excel From Lucent I keep on seeing news such as: Nortel won Sprint Softswitches deal this year; Nortel won Verizon Softswitches deal in LU’s traditional territory in the east cost states late last year. Nortel and Sonus Softswitches are also being used in Qwest. But Excel Softswitches seems not has much luck with baby Bells. Does anybody know why?
rjmcmahon 12/4/2012 | 11:58:29 PM
re: Oak, Soros Buy Excel From Lucent One of the world's most influential companies have been broght down by fotune seekers, stock options addicted and back door entry to the management of the company.

What about the employees? Don't they have any responsibility for this fate?
samurai_o3 12/4/2012 | 11:58:27 PM
re: Oak, Soros Buy Excel From Lucent "What about the employees? Don't they have any responsibility for this fate?"

Yes, employees must be condemned. Der Fuhrer already taught us that lesson. In those dreadful April days last century, when Berlin is under heavy Soviet artillery bombardments, Der Fuhrer, hid inside his bunker, hysterically screamed and shouted at his generals day after day, night after night. Der Fuhrer accused German generals and people for not following his order, thus caused the downfall of the Third Reich. As a result, Germany must be condemned to perish with him in ashes. Of course, Der Fuhrer is always right. So does Lucent’s Der Fuhrers, Oops! I mean management, even though they get paid multi-million big bucks with a golden parachute to LEAD EMPLOYEES in order to right the ship, to save the company. If it works, then it must be because of “Der Fuhrer”’s leadership. If fails, then it must be because commoners, such as Lucent employees and German people at that time, did not follow Der Fuhrer’s order, so they must be crucified. Right?
rjmcmahon 12/4/2012 | 11:58:26 PM
re: Oak, Soros Buy Excel From Lucent If it works, then it must be because of "Der Fuhrer"'s leadership. If fails, then it must be because commoners, such as Lucent employees and German people at that time, did not follow Der Fuhrer's order, so they must be crucified. Right?

I'm no psychologists though I believe herds of people with a victim mentality are susceptible to horrible autrocities. How do such herds lead themselves out when their leaders are not?
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