Riverbed looks to extend to application management with OPNET acquisition

Contact: Brenon Daly

Looking to extend its network performance optimization business into application management, Riverbed Technology said Monday, October 29, that it will spend $1bn in cash and stock for OPNET. Riverbed will roll OPNET into its nascent Cascade business line, offering deeper application monitoring and end-user experience to its existing network-focused product portfolio.

While there certainly is a logical extension between the network and the applications that run on it, the transaction brings a number of risks to Riverbed. For starters, it is by far Riverbed’s largest acquisition – almost ten times bigger than its second-largest deal. While Riverbed said the OPNET transaction is expected to close this year, it indicated the financial ‘synergies’ probably wouldn’t show up until 2014.

Further, the formerly debt-free company will take on debt and issue new equity to cover its purchase of OPNET. According to terms, Riverbed will pay $43 for each OPNET share, composed of $36.55 in cash, and the rest in Riverbed equity. That means Riverbed will have to issue seven million shares and take out a $500m term loan.

Beyond the financial impact, there are also questions about the business it is acquiring. Riverbed is focused on the application performance management (APM) portion of OPNET, but that business only accounts for about half of the company’s overall sales. The other half is network performance management (NPM), which is what Riverbed already sells.

Riverbed highlighted the fact that OPNET’s APM business is growing at more than 30%. However, because of the sluggish growth in the company’s legacy NPM business, OPNET’s overall revenue is only increasing in the mid-teens. (In the first two quarters of its current fiscal year, OPNET has bumped up the top line only 11%.) That’s an acute concern for Riverbed, which will only grow in the mid-teens in 2012 – half the level it expanded at in 2011.

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