Time Warner Cable picks up NaviSite; is InterNap next?

Contact: Ben Kolada

In the second telco-hosting rollup in less than a week, Time Warner Cable is acquiring NaviSite for $230m in cash. This is TWC’s first foray into enterprise hosting and cloud computing services, and marks the end of a tumultuous year for NaviSite that included defending itself from an unsolicited take-private and continuously retooling its business toward enterprise-class services.

TWC, the second-largest cable operator in the US, is paying $5.50 per share, representing a 33% premium over the closing price on February 1. Including the assumption of cash and debt, TWC’s offer gives NaviSite an enterprise value of $277m, or 2.1 times trailing sales and 10.8x trailing EBITDA. While the offer is roughly in line with broad market valuation, it is far below what Terremark received from Verizon. In that deal, announced just last Friday, the target was valued at 5.8x trailing sales and 24.7x trailing EBITDA. Of course, we might argue that Terremark deserves its premium, since it is much healthier and larger than NaviSite. Terremark has 16 datacenters (compared to NaviSite’s 10) spread across a large international footprint, a robust and growing cloud platform and more than twice the sales of NaviSite.

While NaviSite is set to be acquired at a lower valuation than Terremark, TWC’s bid represents a level NaviSite hasn’t seen on its own since late 2007. Further, it’s substantially above the offer that NaviSite attracted just a half-year ago. In July 2010, Atlantic Investors, which already owned one-third of NaviSite’s equity, made an unsolicited offer for the remaining shares of the company. Atlantic Investors’ bid of $3.05 per share valued NaviSite overall at $128m. Time showed that NaviSite was right in rejecting that offer, which isn’t always the case in these unsolicited bids. After spurning the offer, the company continued in its dogged determination to become an enterprise-class hosting provider throughout 2010 and divested some $74m in non-core assets to get there.

After NaviSite’s sale, speculation is intensifying about which hoster will be acquired next. We’ve written before that Savvis is an obvious target, and Rackspace is the constant focus of acquisition speculation. We might add Internap Network Services to that list. The Atlanta-based company’s shares are up 6% in mid-Wednesday trading, continuing a run since the Terremark announcement on January 27. One reason we might point to a trade sale for Internap is that the chief executive has done it before. In January 2009, the company appointed a new CEO, Eric Cooney, who has a history of growing companies and leading them to successful sales. He was previously CEO of Tandberg, which was acquired by Ericsson for $1.4bn in 2007. Since Cooney’s appointment, Internap’s shares have climbed 170%, giving the company a market cap of slightly more than $400m. Look for a full report on TWC’s pickup of NaviSite in tonight’s Daily 451.