Leading Lights 2018 Finalists: Best Deal Maker

Deal making is a constant feature of the industry, but the deals that make this year's Leading Lights shortlist are particularly strong entries -- all with the potential to lead the dealmakers in exciting new directions.

The shortlisted candidates in 2018 are Israel's Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX), Virginia-based GTT Communications Inc. and California's Viavi Solutions Inc. All three have announced deals in the last year that could be game changers for their businesses as well as the customers they serve.

The winner will be announced on Monday, May 14, at Brazos Hall in Austin, Texas. On the following day, Light Reading's Big Communications Event opens its doors for two days of learning, networking and fun.

Readers can find out more about the companies that were shortlisted across all award categories here.

Let's find out more about the shortlisted candidates for this particular award.

Giant OSS vendor Amdocs is no stranger to M&A activity and has announced a series of takeover deals in the last year. Those have included the acquisition in February of UXP Systems, which develops lifecycle management software, and the November 2017 purchase of projekt202, which provides software to companies outside the telecom sector, including Mercedes-Benz Financial Services and Southwest Airlines.

Let's also not forget the move for Kenzan Media in July 2017. Focused on platform-as-a-service and cloud-native application development, Kenzan could prove to be a major asset in future.

But the biggest deal by far was the $224 million takeover of Vubiquity announced at the start of this year. Previously called Avail-TVN, Vubiquity brings expertise in video management and distribution and heralds an ambitious move beyond operations and billing management. It expands the Amdocs services suite and gives it a way of deepening its relationships with communications service providers.

GTT Communications
Unless you were living in a cave in late February, or drunk on cava at Mobile World Congress, you cannot have missed GTT's audacious $2.3 billion takeover of Interoute. GTT had already bulked up through acquisitions, but the takeover of Interoute brought with it one of Europe's largest independent fiber networks and cloud networking platforms.

For more data center-related coverage and insights, check out this dedicated content channel here on Light Reading.

Light Reading hailed it as a "savvy move" when it was first announced, and you can see why through closer examination of the assets. Those include: a 72,000km fiber network, covering 24 metro markets and interconnecting 126 cities across 29 countries; 15 data centers; 17 virtual data centers and 51 colocation facilities; more than 1,000 customers; and revenues of about $875 million annually. GTT also gets a team well versed in developing cloud systems and the delivery of SD-WAN services.

Viavi Solutions
Test specialist Viavi makes our shortlist for its bold $455 million takeover of Cobham's test and measurement division. Announced in February, the move, it is hoped, will strengthen Viavi's position in the 5G market and give it a presence in the military, avionics and public safety markets. Following the takeover, Viavi will also have annual revenues of more than $1 billion.

The deal looks good on several levels. For one thing, it was announced shortly after 5G new radio specifications were locked down and seems to anticipate the arrival in the market of standards-based 5G products that will, of course, need testing and measuring. It also gives Viavi some muscle in its fight against test rivals like Anritsu and Keysight. Diversification into other industries seems like a sensible strategy, too, guarding against the risk the communications sector remains weak.

Investors liked what they saw. Viavi's share price rose more than 15%, to about $10, after the takeover announcement on February 2. Boosted by a strong set of earnings this week, its share price was trading at $10.10 on May 4.

— Iain Morris, International Editor, Light Reading

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