Blue-light special on Brocade

by Brenon Daly

For all of the would-be suitors of Brocade Communications, now is seemingly the time to move on the enterprise networking vendor. The value of the company has been trimmed by about one-quarter this week, meaning that a buyer paying a typical premium would be getting Brocade for the price that it fetched on its own last week. (We understand that valuations aren’t quite that simple – and it probably shortchanges Brocade – but it’s directionally accurate.) The recent problems at Brocade stem largely from the Foundry Networks business that it acquired a little more than a year ago.

With investors lopping off the gains that Brocade had run up over the past 10 months, the company has clearly been marked down. Yet, on the other side of any theoretical deal for Brocade, the demand has probably dipped since M&A speculation was swirling around Brocade last October. The reason? One company that had been mentioned as a possible buyer for Brocade is probably now out of the market.

Hewlett-Packard made a major networking move of its own shortly after most people put it at the top of the list of potential suitors for Brocade. Last November, HP handed over some $3.1bn for 3Com, which means that it doesn’t need Brocade (or more specifically, Foundry) quite as much. Of course, IBM is still a big OEM partner for Brocade, as is Dell. Both of those vendors could still be interested in a major networking acquisition, particularly at a discounted price. Brocade currently sports an enterprise value of $3.1bn.