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Conferencing/telepresence

Genesys Bid Turns Up Conferencing Heat

The conferencing services sector, already bubbling with advances from the likes of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Nortel Networks Ltd. , heated up further today as French specialist Genesys announced a takeover offer valued at €183 million ($269 million). (See West Bids for Genesys.)

Conferencing has long been touted as a service hot spot, but has never quite lived up to expectations. Now, with new technologies hitting the market and renewed interest from major carriers and vendors that are scoping out managed service opportunities, there are signs the sector is set to explode. (See Verizon Beefs Up Video Conferencing, Cisco, Nortel Tee Off in Telepresence, BT Conferencing Uses Sonus, AT&T Completes Acquisition, LG-Nortel Unveils Unified Devices, IP Videoconferencing: Picture Perfect at Last?, VZB Widens Conferencing, and Cisco to Buy WebEx for $3.2B.)

Now Genesys, a long-time player in the market, has received a €2.50 ($3.68) per share offer from Omaha, Neb.-based West Corp. , which wants to merge the French outfit with its own audio, Web, and video conferencing business, InterCall. (See Intercall Picks Ditech.)

That offer is 50 percent higher than the €1.67 closing price of Genesys stock Monday on the Euronext Paris exchange, and the Genesys board has agreed to recommend the offer to its shareholders.

Genesys last week announced 2007 revenues of €148.3 million ($219 million), up nearly 5 percent over 2006. But that growth was nothing compared to the rise in the number of conferencing minutes handled by Genesys in 2007 -– 3 billion minutes, up 29.7 percent compared with 2006.

West also saw growth in conferencing in 2007, reporting revenues from InterCall's conferencing services of $728 million, up nearly 20 percent compared with 2006.

The news gave the Genesys share price a lift, but not by as much as might have been expected: At 2 p.m. in Paris the shares were trading up 18 percent at €1.97, still some way short of West's offer.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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