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Carrier Access: Still in Play

Raymond McConville
News Analysis
Raymond McConville

Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA)'s interest in acquiring Carrier Access Corp. (Nasdaq: CACS) has cooled, according to sources close to the situation.

Tellabs had been the favorite to land the wireless backhaul equipment vendor and was thought to be close to hammering out a deal nearly a month ago. (See Tellabs Close to Carrier Access Buy.) Now sources say Tellabs isn't in a hurry to do a deal, and Carrier Access is said to be talking to several different companies as it evaluates its options.

There's still the rumored offer from Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. (See Huawei M&A Rumor.) Industry analysts say that from a technology standpoint, this deal would be a good fit for Huawei, but there's been no evidence that talks progressed beyond a letter of intent.

Another option could be that Carrier Access only sells part of itself. "I don't think the plan is to sell the entire company," says one Wall Street analyst who did not wish to be named. "I think the game plan is to sell the wireline group and to keep wireless."

The wireless assets of Carrier Access are the company's main attraction, given its relationship with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) But with new management taking over, the prevailing thought on Wall Street is that it will keep the wireless business.

Adtran had been rumored as a possible buyer, but that's not how Adtran's CFO James Matthews sees it. "We have no interest in acquiring Carrier Access."

When reached at her office, Nancy Pierce, Carrier Access's corporate development officer, would not comment on the situation.

Tellabs would not offer comment either citing competitive reasons.

— Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading

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