Verizon pays sky-high price for cloud provider Terremark

Contact: Ben Kolada

In a move to accelerate its cloud services, Verizon has announced that it is acquiring cloud and colocation provider Terremark for $1.4bn. As the largest pairing between a telco and a colocation provider, the deal is not only a landmark transaction for the telecommunications industry, but also a significant shift from the growing trend of telcos buying their way into the hosting and colocation sectors by acquiring pure colocation providers.

Verizon is paying $19 per share in cash, a 35% premium over Terremark’s closing price. On an equity value basis, the deal values the target at 4.4 times trailing sales and 18.6x trailing EBITDA. For comparison, the next-largest telco-colo pairing came in May 2010 when Cincinnati Bell bought pure colocation provider CyrusOne for $525m, or 9.1x trailing sales and 16.4x trailing EBITDA. Both Verizon and Terremark’s board of directors have unanimously approved the transaction, and Verizon expects to complete the deal by the end of the first quarter. Terremark’s management team will remain and will operate the company as a wholly owned but independent subsidiary of Verizon.

While earlier acquisitions in this sector were valued based on the growth potential of colocation services, Terremark garnered a higher valuation because of its cloud portfolio, as well as its international presence. During their conference call discussing the acquisition, executives from both companies highlighted the fact that Terremark’s long-term growth lies in its cloud and managed services. This segment provided half of Terremark’s total service revenue during the first six months of its fiscal 2011. Beyond cloud services, the acquisition is also a geographic fit, with Terremark providing Verizon an expanded presence in Latin America, and Verizon providing Terremark additional room to grow in both the US and Europe. As part of the integration, Terremark will assume operations for all of Verizon’s 220 datacenters. (We’ll have a full report on this deal in tonight’s Daily 451.)

After the transaction was announced, shares of competing cloud computing firms soared. While the sector calmed somewhat by midday, shares of Savvis held onto its 15% advance as Wall Street speculated that it might be the next hosting and services company to get snapped up. (Trading in Savvis was more than 10 times its daily average on Friday.) By revenue, the Chesterfield, Missouri-based firm is the largest provider of cloud and colocation services and already sports a $1.7bn market capitalization. As a result, the list of potential suitors is limited, but AT&T stands out as an obvious bidder for Savvis. Just as Savvis is the largest provider among cloud firms, AT&T is the largest provider among telcos and closed 2010 with $124bn in revenue and $1.4bn in cash in its coffers.