Are Internet infrastructure exits interconnected?

Contact: Ben Kolada

Providing further proof that it’s a tough time to be on the market, much less come to market, GI Partners has opted to sell its Telx investment rather than battle through an IPO. The company’s sale to ABRY Partners and Berkshire Partners closes the books (at least for now) on a proposed public offering that Telx initially filed back in March 2010. And we wouldn’t be surprised if Telx’s sale caused other IPO candidates in the industry to rethink their entry onto the public stage as well.

Terms weren’t disclosed, but we understand that Telx caught a fairly high valuation that would have provided a more immediate – and lucrative – return than an IPO. Although the Internet infrastructure industry showed resilience throughout the recession, consistently growing revenue, that hasn’t always been the case when it comes to the public markets. Chinese datacenter operator 21Vianet Group, for example, closed its first trading day on the Nasdaq with a market cap of $1bn. However, since then its shares have lost 40% of their value. (We note, however, that the success of 21Vianet’s IPO was due in part to success from other Chinese IPOs, as well as buyout speculation in the industry.)

Just as the Internet infrastructure market focuses on interconnection, we suspect that its participants’ exits are also interconnected. We feel that Telx’s recent sale to ABRY Partners and Berkshire Partners could cause the industry’s other IPO candidates to pause before hitting the public markets. Our colleagues at Tier1 Research maintain a list of the Internet infrastructure industry’s potential IPO candidates. Although speculation surrounds such fast-growing firms as SoftLayer Technologies, Peak 10, Zimory and Next Generation Data, an IPO for these players may be pushed to the back burner, at least for the foreseeable future.