Extreme’s not horsing around, buys Brocade’s datacenter networking assets 

Contact: Jim Duffy 

As it stalks one horse, acquisition-hungry Extreme Networks has saddled up another. The suddenly feisty enterprise networking vendor has picked up Brocade’s datacenter business – another piece of Brocade that acquirer Broadcom is not interested in owning. Extreme is benefiting from that lack of interest, paying just a fraction of the asset’s annual revenue.

Even for a bargain shopper like Extreme, the deal comes at a steep discount. According to 451 Research’s M&A KnowledgeBase, Extreme has made just five acquisitions in the past 15 years. Three of them have come in the past seven months. The company recently bought Avaya’s networking business ($100m) and Zebra Technologies’ WLAN unit ($55m). In both transactions, it valued the target at about 0.5x revenue, the same multiple it paid in its 2013 purchase of Enterasys.

Extreme will pay $35m upfront and $20m in deferred payments for Brocade’s VDX, MLX and SLX routing and switching assets, plus its analytics software. Although revenue from the Brocade assets have declined amid the uncertainty over who might ultimately own them, the unit is expected to add $230m to Extreme’s top line in its next fiscal year. This deal, combined with its weeks-old stalking-horse bid for Avaya’s assets, could push its annual revenue beyond $1bn and make Extreme the third-largest wired and wireless enterprise networking equipment provider behind Cisco and HPE.

The divestiture comes as Broadcom is looking to close its acquisition of Brocade’s Fibre Channel business, while shedding the target’s networking equipment assets – Brocade’s Ruckus Wireless WLAN unit was snagged by ARRIS a few weeks ago. Today’s transaction is contingent upon the close of Broadcom’s purchase of Brocade, which is expected in July. Finalization of Extreme’s buy is expected 60 days after that. In addition to the cash consideration, Broadcom is already Extreme’s largest supplier and the acquirer says it will increase its current $100m annual spending with Broadcom.

Customer overlap was minimal, as Brocade’s datacenter business was targeting large enterprise core datacenters with more than 2,000 physical servers, while Extreme was concentrating on the campus edge (WLAN and access switching, and fewer than 2,000 servers). The two have joint customers, for example, that use Brocade in the datacenter and Extreme at the WLAN edge. Nonetheless, Extreme says it will obtain 6,000 customers using Brocade’s VDX, MLX and new SLX routers and switches.

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LogMeIn goes to GoTo

by Brenon Daly

Eight months after Citrix announced plans to spin off its GoTo business, the company has significantly bulked up the unit with the consolidation of rival online communications and support provider LogMeIn. The deal, which is structured as a tax-advantaged merger that values LogMeIn at $1.8bn, would increase GoTo’s revenue by about 50% to $1bn. It is expected to close early next year.

Terms of the Reverse Morris Trust transaction call for Citrix to own slightly more than half of the combined entity, holding 50.1% of the company with LogMeIn retaining the remaining 49.9%. Ownership notwithstanding, LogMeIn will have an outsized role in charting the future course of the $1bn SaaS giant.

Both the current CEO and CFO at LogMeIn will hold those respective roles at the combined firm, which will take LogMeIn’s current headquarters as its own. Further, LogMeIn will have five directors on the company’s board, with four coming from Citrix. We would attribute that weighting to the fact that LogMeIn has significantly outgrown the larger GoTo unit. In the just-completed second quarter, for instance, LogMeIn increased revenue about 28%, roughly twice the rate at GoTo.

At $1.8bn, the deal values LogMeIn at its highest-ever level. Over the past year, LogMeIn has generated $309m in sales, meaning it is being valued at 6x trailing sales. That’s a bit shy of the average of 7.5x trailing revenue paid for SaaS vendors in transactions valued at more than $1bn, according to 451 Research’s M&A KnowledgeBase. For instance, two months ago, Vista Equity Partners paid 8x trailing sales for Marketo, a smaller but slightly faster-growing marketing automation provider that, unlike LogMeIn, runs in the red.

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Big Yellow tries on a Blue Coat

Contact: Brenon Daly

Announcing the second-largest information security transaction in history, Symantec says it will pay $4.7bn in cash for Blue Coat Systems. The single purchase eclipses the amount Big Yellow has spent, collectively, on all of its two dozen information security acquisitions over the past decade and a half, according to 451 Research’s M&A KnowledgeBase. Strategically, the proposed pairing is essentially a large-scale combination of Symantec’s endpoint security with Blue Coat’s Web defense, an M&A trend that has mostly featured deals valued in the tens of millions of dollars, rather than billions of dollars.

The transaction will further boost Symantec’s standing as the largest independent security vendor. On a GAAP basis, the combined company would have sales of about $4.2bn. (For perspective, that’s twice the size of McAfee at the time of its sale to Intel in 2010.) Blue Coat recorded GAAP revenue of $599m in its latest fiscal year. However, because of accounting regulations, that figure excludes a fair amount of deferred revenue. In its IPO paperwork, Blue Coat offered a non-GAAP ‘adjusted revenue’ figure that included the written-off deferred revenue totaling $775m in its latest fiscal year. By either measure, Blue Coat would bump up the combined company’s top line by about 20%.

For Symantec, however, bigger has not necessarily proven to be better. Big Yellow only recently cleaved off its Veritas division, unwinding a decade-long effort to pair security with storage that ultimately failed to produce returns. Yet even on the other side of the tumultuous separation, revenue at Symantec shrank in its previous fiscal year by 9%, with the company forecasting that the contraction would continue in the current fiscal year. The instability has also played out in the corner office, with Symantec having run through three CEOs in the past four years. (Note: Symantec currently doesn’t have a permanent chief executive, although as part of the agreement, current Blue Coat CEO Greg Clark will take the top job at the combined company after the deal closes, which is expected by September. In that way, there’s also a bit of an ‘acq-hire’ aspect to the multibillion-dollar pairing.)

The move marks a rare case of a dual-tracking, with Symantec buying Blue Coat less than two weeks after the company revealed its IPO paperwork. And, as we look at Blue Coat’s valuation, we can’t help but think that Big Yellow had to outbid Wall Street to get this transaction done. Think about it this way: a little more than a year ago, current owner Bain Capital was able to purchase Blue Coat for $2.4bn – just half the price Symantec is paying. (Of course, last spring Symantec probably wasn’t in a position to do a major deal, as it was focused on the Veritas divestiture.)

At $4.7bn, Blue Coat is valued at 7.8x its trailing GAAP revenue of $600m. (Even if we view the transaction on the adjusted revenue of $775m, Symantec is paying 6x non-GAAP revenue. Continuing on those unorthodox financial measures, we would add that the acquisition values Blue Coat at slightly more than 20x trailing adjusted EBITDA.) Overall, those valuations are only slightly above the average of just under 7x trailing sales for information security deals valued at more than $1bn over the past 14 years, according to 451 Research’s M&A KnowledgeBase.

Largest information security transactions, 2002-16

Date announced Acquirer Target Deal value Deal valuation*
August 19, 2010 Intel McAfee $7.7bn 3.4x
June 12, 2016 Symantec Blue Coat Systems $4.7bn 7.8x
Feb 9, 2004 Juniper Networks Netscreen Technologies $4bn 14.3x
July 23, 2013 Cisco Systems Sourcefire $2.7bn 10.7x
March 10, 2015 Bain Capital Blue Coat Systems $2.4bn 3.8x

Source: 451 Research’s M&A KnowledgeBase *Price-to-trailing-sales multiple

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No longer a faded garment, Blue Coat to hit the public market

Contact: Brenon Daly

More than four years after going private, Blue Coat is set to make a return to the public market. But the company that put in its IPO paperwork is very different from the one that beat a hasty retreat from Wall Street. The resurrected Blue Coat is cleaner, more stable and throws off more cash. And, most dramatically, it’s growing at a healthy mid-teens percentage rate, while the old version was shrinking. The reboot of Blue Coat, which has been accomplished under private equity (PE) ownership, will pay dividends as it makes its debut.

The original Blue Coat, which was founded 20 years ago, was a bit of a faded garment when its initial PE owner, Thoma Bravo, got its hands on it. As noted, revenue was declining as the company stumbled from its network performance origins into Web security, while not doing either particularly well. (451 Research surveys of customers at the time of Blue Coat’s leveraged buyout showed that respondents had a largely unfavorable view of the company, with many indicating they planned to cut their spending with it.) That corporate uncertainty was compounded by churn in the corner office, as three CEOs came and went in just the 18 months leading up to Blue Coat’s LBO.

The company is now squarely focused on network security, while also spending liberally to step into securing the cloud. This growth is crucial because the cloud has effectively expanded the perimeter of a network, and many legacy network-based security products – from some of Blue Coat’s contemporaries – have proven ineffective at addressing cloud and mobile use cases. That helps explain why the company has rung up a $400m bill for SaaS security, acquiring both Perspecsys and Elastica last year.

Blue Coat has taken these strategic steps while roughly tripling cash-flow generation and increasing revenue by about two-thirds. Some caveats, however, are needed when comparing the current financial performance at the company with its earlier numbers. In its prospectus, Blue Coat has put forward several non-GAAP measures as key metrics, including ‘adjusted revenue’ and ‘adjusted EBITDA.’ Although 451 Research relies on GAAP figures, there are compelling reasons – notably the deferred revenue write-downs, which are essentially an accounting exercise – that make it understandable why the company favors those nonstandard measures. With those disclaimers, Blue Coat reports adjusted revenue of $775m and adjusted EBITDA of $223m for its most recent fiscal year, which ended in April. Regardless of the measure, however, it’s fair to say that the new Blue Coat is a whole lot bigger and throws off more cash than it ever has before.

After much of the initial cleanup at Blue Coat was done under Thoma Bravo, the buyout shop sold the company to current owner Bain Capital last March. (As an aside, we would note that Thoma Bravo – despite having one of the biggest buyout portfolios in the tech industry – still hasn’t taken a portfolio company public.) Bain Capital paid $2.4bn, and looks certain to see its blue-hued portfolio company hit the market at north of $3bn.

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New insight on rapidly emerging IoT M&A activity

Contact: Brenon Daly

With the number of Internet of Things (IoT) acquisitions in 2015 already topping the total from the past two years combined, 451 Research has launched a dedicated channel for our qualitative and quantitative research in this rapidly emerging market. The IoT channel is the first addition to our 14-sector research dashboard, which we unveiled last summer.

The new channel covers the full scope of IoT, focusing on 10 primary ‘building block’ technologies that are increasingly enabling the digitalization and virtualization of huge swaths of the physical world. These trends – spanning from edge technology to core technology – have also sparked unprecedented M&A activity in the IoT sector, not only in terms of number of prints and spending on them but also the variety of buyers.

Essentially, any company that has a ‘thing’ and wants to create actionable business intelligence from it can be viewed as a potential IoT acquirer. According to 451 Research’s M&A KnowledgeBase , we have already seen companies as diverse as Google, adidas, Cisco and even farm machinery maker Deere & Company all ink IoT acquisitions. Even as those buyers have helped push spending on IoT deals up a staggering 100-fold in the past four years, the sense is that shopping in this market has only just begun.

For insight and forecasts on both activity and valuations around M&A in the IoT market, be sure to check out our new IoT channel.


Year Deal volume Deal value
YTD 2015 81 $21.3bn
2014 61 $14.4bn
2013 21 $454m
2012 15 $767m
2011 18 $201m

Source: 451 Research’s M&A KnowledgeBase

Buyout barons pay up in big tech prints

Contact: Brenon Daly

Once again, the buyout barons are paying up in their big bets. The latest example of private equity (PE) largess came in the proposed SolarWinds take-private, with Silver Lake Partners and Thoma Bravo teaming up on a $4.5bn offer. That’s a fairly steep price for a company growing sales in the high teens to about $500m this year. On a cash-flow basis, SolarWinds is getting a vertigo-inducing valuation of 27x EBITDA.

While SolarWinds’ valuation is certainly richer than other significant PE deals, this year has nonetheless seen financial buyers ready to pay above-market prices. For instance, Informatica, which put up about $1bn in sales, went private earlier this year for more than $5bn. On a smaller scale, we understand that’s exactly the same valuation Thoma Bravo paid in its purchase of privately held healthcare analytics vendor MedeAnalytics.

Altogether, the PE shops involved in the 10 largest transactions in 2015 have paid an average of 3.4x trailing sales, according to 451 Research’s M&A KnowledgeBase . (To be clear, that’s based on the enterprise value of the targets.) For comparison, that’s a full turn higher than the average valuation for big PE prints over the previous three years. Of course, buyers in the previous years didn’t necessarily have to worry about an imminent raise of interest rates, which might be spurring some of the activity now.

Significant PE deal valuations, 2012-15*

Year Average enterprise value/sales ratio Select transactions
YTD 2015 3.4x SolarWinds LBO, Informatica LBO, Solera Holdings LBO
2014 2.9x TIBCO LBO, Riverbed LBO, Compuware LBO
2013 2x Dell LBO, BMC LBO, Active Network LBO
2012 2.4x Getty Images, Misys LBO, Ancestry.com LBO

Source: 451 Research’s M&A KnowledgeBase *Average enterprise value-to-sales ratio of the 10 largest transactions in each of the years

Family drama at VMworld

Contact: Brenon Daly

Even before he talked products or markets, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger kicked off his comments to Wall Streeters at his company’s annual conference with a moment of ‘family time.’ In this case, it was to defend the current corporate parentage, with EMC owning a super majority of VMware as part of a larger ‘EMC Federation.’

Gelsinger essentially said that the way things are now in the EMC family is the way they should be. He went on to knock down rumors that he was planning – or even considering – any changes in the current corporate structure, specifically singling out recent reports about a kind of fratricide by VMware in which his company would take over EMC. ‘Better together’ is the family motto.

Not everyone agrees, however. Some critics, such as the kind that buy small chunks of stock in a company and then try to tell it what to do, counter that the current structure actually inhibits growth in the family.

The activist hedge funds have a point, given that VMware stock has basically flatlined over the past five years while the S&P 500 Index has nearly doubled. (The underperformance stands out even more when we consider that a half-decade ago, VMware was running at less than $1bn in quarterly revenue. It now puts up more than $1.5bn in sales each quarter. There aren’t too many S&P 500 companies that are two-thirds bigger now than they were in 2011. Most, including EMC, have only slightly grown.)

Given that Elliott Associates, an activist hedge fund that has already successfully pushed to reshuffle EMC’s board of directors, effectively crashed the VMworld party, it’s not unreasonable to expect even more changes in the EMC Federation. (Remember, too, that the ‘standstill’ agreement between Elliott and EMC expires this month.) There may well be some family drama before the year is out.

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Cisco closes in on OpenDNS

Contact: Brenon Daly

In its third-largest IT security acquisition, Cisco will pay $635m in cash for OpenDNS to shore up its threat-detection and -prevention portfolio. The deal comes a year after the networking giant participated in the 10-year-old startup’s series C funding round. (The $35m investment announced last May brought the total amount raised by OpenDNS to $51m.)

The purchase continues Cisco’s practice of paying rich multiples as it shops in information security. According to 451 Research’s M&A KnowledgeBase , Cisco has now acquired 18 security companies in the past decade and a half, mostly smaller startups. (All but three of those transactions cost the networking giant less than $200m.) We would note that although Cisco’s security business generates less than 5% of its total revenue, infosec acquisitions have accounted for 16% of the company’s overall M&A activity since 2002.

In its other large infosec purchases, Cisco paid $2.7bn, or nearly 11x trailing sales, for Sourcefire and $830m for IronPort Systems, which works out to slightly more than 8x trailing revenue. OpenDNS generated about $40m in trailing bookings and was on pace to double annual bookings to roughly $60m for full-year 2015.

That would mean Cisco is paying about 15x trailing bookings for fast-growing OpenDNS. Obviously, the price-to-revenue multiple for OpenDNS would be higher than that, likely falling in the neighborhood of twice the valuation that Cisco paid in its two other significant infosec deals. The valuation of the network security vendor stands out even more considering the recent focus in the IT security industry on endpoint protection, which has resulted in valuations there being pushed to historically high levels. Cisco expects to close the pickup of OpenDNS by the end of its first fiscal quarter, which wraps in October.

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Fortinet gets (practically) free Wi-Fi

Contact: Scott Denne

Fortinet has always been a bargain shopper, picking up IP assets and down-on-their-luck startups. The $44m acquisition of Wi-Fi company Meru Networks is Fortinet’s largest deal (by a factor of seven), and it hasn’t strayed from its M.O. The transaction values the publicly traded target at 0.4x trailing revenue – the lowest multiple on record for a Wi-Fi router vendor, according to 451 Research’s M&A Knowledgebase.

Meru posted a few years of growth leading up to its 2010 IPO, though it’s stalled since then, with annual revenue hovering at $90m-$105m. Meru’s stock is down more than 90% since its debut. Wall Street hasn’t been kind to Wi-Fi providers of late. Ruckus Wireless is down 16% and Aerohive 30% since they began trading in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

An acquisition of Meru was not unexpected (the company had retained Deutsche Bank Securities late last year as an adviser to pursue a sale or merger of the company); however, Fortinet as the acquirer was certainly not expected. Meru’s recent announcement of 802.11ac Wave 2 products as well as its new cloud-managed service for MSPs were targeted as much at potential suitors looking to fill in roadmap gaps as customers. This transaction arrives too late to capitalize on the 2015 E-Rate spending cycle, and it’s still uncertain if the internal networking funding will continue into 2016 and beyond. Regardless, this was an inexpensive pickup of key technologies, IP and talent in a growing market.

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Ciena expands SDN palette with $400m Cyan acquisition

Contact: Brenon Daly Jennifer Clark

After being out of the M&A market for more than a half-decade, Ciena has stepped back in with the equity-heavy $400m purchase of Cyan. Under terms, Ciena will hand over roughly $365m of its stock along with $44m in cash for fellow networking equipment and software vendor Cyan. (The purchase price includes $50m in convertible notes that Cyan sold last December.)

Cyan focuses on packet optical products, and its Blue Planet software is an SDN/NFV platform built to provide service orchestration, automation and SDN control in a multivendor network and to manage the lifecycle of virtualized services across datacenters and the WAN. Blue Planet contributed less than 10% to Cyan’s revenue in fiscal 2014, yet Ciena was attracted to the deal by the offering, which it thinks represents the next stage of multivendor management software.

Ciena’s bid values Cyan at $4.75 per share, which represents a 30% premium to the target’s previous closing price but is less than half the level of the company’s IPO just two years ago. Still, Cyan is getting a decent valuation, certainly compared with other recent networking transactions. Ciena indicated that its net cost for Cyan would be $335m, meaning it is effectively paying 3.3x the target’s 2014 revenue and roughly 2.4x projected 2015 revenue. In the sector’s recent blockbuster deal, Nokia has agreed to buy Alcatel-Lucent for $16.5bn in an all-stock transaction, valuing its French rival at basically 1x sales. (Of course, comparing that consolidation with the Ciena-Cyan pairing is a bit flawed, given that Cyan, while growing quickly, generates less revenue in a year than Alcatel-Lucent posts in two business days, on average.) Similarly, Ciena currently trades at essentially 1x sales.

Ciena expects the transaction to close before the end of its current fiscal year, which wraps in October. Morgan Stanley advised Ciena, while Jefferies banked Cyan. We’ll have a full report on this acquisition in tomorrow’s 451 Market Insight.

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