Contact: Ben Kolada, Antonio Piraino
True to its intentions of bolstering its cloud prowess and less than half a year after completing its Terremark Worldwide purchase, Verizon Communications has now acquired cloud onboarding provider CloudSwitch. The timing of the deal comes as a surprise – CloudSwitch was still in startup mode – but that only goes to show the strategic importance Verizon is placing on this technology. CloudSwitch provides a proprietary technology that helps Terremark onboard workloads from internal IT infrastructure to its cloud platform in a more seamless and non-reconfigurable way.
CloudSwitch is addressing the first hurdle faced by the cloud platform proposition – how does a company with an established IT practice even begin to consider transitioning to the cloud? ‘Bursting’ over to the cloud, and making it so that applications can shift seamlessly to the cloud without rewriting code, is a good start. Giving enterprise system administrators the ability to point and click through an entire datacenter migration project is highly attractive for operations staff to consider migrating to a cloud environment. Even though hybrid mixes of in-house and off-premises resources are expected to exist for quite some time, there is still a considerable opportunity for providers in the space.
My colleagues at Tier1 Research don’t believe that Verizon/Terremark is finished building on this enterprise cloud play. When it has developed the infrastructure (including onboarding and orchestration layers), they expect that it will continue to move further up the IT stack. And in this era of heavy M&A activity, there’s a fine line to be drawn between buying prior to proven maturity and possessing technology before your competition grabs it, making this a good investment for Verizon/Terremark.
Contact: Ben Kolada
CenturyLink’s Savvis acquisition, which closes today, is the largest telco-hosting deal on record, though we expect that it will be followed by a rise in smaller telco-hosting pairings. As the number of large hosting targets, which typically serve enterprises, continues to shrink, we anticipate that telcos that were unable to get their hands on prized enterprise properties will still look to enter this industry by consolidating the fragmented small and midsized hosting market.
Based on the most notable telco-hosting deals to date, Verizon’s Terremark buy and CenturyLink’s reach for Savvis, enterprises appear to be the primary market for large telcos looking to sell cloud services. However, we are noticing emerging interest from telcos looking to serve SMBs. Last month we saw Madrid-based telco Telefónica spend a reported $110m for cloud hoster acens Technologies, which serves more than 100,000 SMB customers throughout Spain. On a much smaller scale, in February local competitive carrier CornerStone Telephone announced that it was picking up consumer and SMB-focused Web hoster ActiveHost for an undisclosed amount.
We’ve written before that the greatest opportunity for telco-hoster combinations may actually be for regional and smaller telcos to buy smaller hosters. The hosting market is still fragmented, particularly among smaller providers, and many of these firms are experiencing capital constraints that are preventing expansion. Regional and local telcos will be able to take advantage of this fragmentation and acquire small complementary hosting providers without spending too much money, since smaller providers tend to garner smaller valuations, typically between 6-8 times last-quarter annualized EBITDA. However, if telco-hosting consolidation grows at this level, the acquired properties will most likely be colocation-focused, since most small hosting providers founded their business on colocation services.
Contact: Ben Kolada
Although the US hosting, cloud and colocation markets are still growing, cloud infrastructure providers are already expanding overseas. This international expansion is driven in part by enterprises demanding global cloud platforms, as well as the vendors’ desire to tap into emerging markets.
Verizon Communications’ Terremark Worldwide purchase seemingly set the stage for international expansion (although the telco was primarily attracted to Terremark’s cloud platform, the deal also provided Verizon with deeper penetration in Central and South America), and colocation and hosting providers soon followed suit. Shortly after the Terremark sale, Savvis announced a partnership in India with Bharti Airtel and claimed to be looking for similar partnerships in South America and China. Meanwhile, Savvis competitor Equinix has already moved into South America with the $127m pickup of Rio de Janeiro-based ALOG Data Centers. The company also has a presence in China with facilities in Hong Kong and through a partnership in Shanghai with Shanghai Data Solutions.
While international expansions will continue, we expect that the announcements will eventually turn from partnerships to outright acquisitions as cloud infrastructure providers look to get the most out of their investments. Equinix has already shown a willingness to make international deals, and we anticipate that the company will announce additional overseas transactions. The company could make further inroads in China by entering the Beijing market. My colleagues at Tier1 Research believe that large cities in China such as Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Tianjin are underpopulated with datacenters and predict that these cities will see significant datacenter investment over the next five years.
Contact: Ben Kolada
As telcos look to stem losses in their business divisions and hosters look for partners to help them continue revenue growth, the two industries are increasingly merging together. The recent Terremark and NaviSite sales have already set a new record for dealmaking between these two sectors, eclipsing the nearly $1bn worth of deals that we saw in 2010. And unlike in other industries, where companies or assets may be acquired and then squandered, the strategic potential that telcos and hosters offer each other is too valuable to be wasted, and pairings between the two industries usually benefit both sides. (Click here to check out our longer report on this growing trend.)
Verizon’s Terremark purchase represents the most synergistic pairing that we’ve seen between these two industries. But the hosting sector in general can benefit from partnering with complementary telcos. Perhaps the greatest opportunity may actually be for regional and smaller telcos (which we loosely define as providers with revenue between $100-500m) to buy smaller hosters. The hosting market is still fragmented, particularly among smaller providers, and many of these firms are experiencing capital constraints that are preventing expansion. Regional and local telcos will be able to take advantage of this fragmentation and acquire small complementary hosting providers without spending too much money, since smaller providers tend to garner smaller valuations.
Benefits for hosting providers partnering with telcos:
- Telcos often already have some level of existing Internet infrastructure services that can be complemented by purchasing providers to round out those offerings or expand geographically.
- Telcos have access to capital to support continued growth.
- Telcos have long histories of service provision for both large and small business.
- Telcos have institutional knowledge with respect to offering multiple products and services simultaneously across more than one geography, often with widely varied requirements and expertise.
Source: Tier1 Research
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.
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.