2:20 PM -- The pace of mergers picked up during the past couple of years, and the size, scope, and ambition of some of those deals has moved up the scale as well.
In considering finalists for the 2010 Light Reading Leading Lights Awards, the Deal Maker category was easy pickings. Companies saw the opportunity to change an industry sector -- or felt the desperation of needing to improve their own lot -- and made some bold moves.
Technically, the category isn't just about mergers; a shrewd spinoff or financing would have been eligible, too. But the merger pool was rich, and it provided us with eight finalists and some strong runners-up.
Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) -- The ProgrammableWeb and OpenPlug deals might seem small, but they reflect Ben Verwaayen's sermons about AlcaLu's future lying in application enablement. That's the kind of forward thinking we're looking for. (See AlcaLu CEO Ben Verwaayen, Part II.)
Tekelec -- The acquisitions of Blueslice and Camiant suggest that Tekelec sees its future in software, with policy control and subscriber management ruling the day.
Windstream Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: WIN) -- We're awarding Windstream for a body of work in the Tier 2/3 consolidation sphere. In the past two years, it's acquired (chronologically) Lexcom, NuVox, Iowa Telecommunications Services, Kentucky Data Link, and Norlight. (See Tellabs on a Roll.)
Another one we considered here was Nokia. Some interesting little acquisitions, but I don't know... it feels more like a catchup story, and less like a big-picture strategy. Or am I underestimating them?