Amid consolidation, Ixia opens its wallet

-Contact authors: Thomas Rasmussen, Steve Steinke

Historically, networking test and measurement vendor Ixia has never been much of a shopper. However, that has started to change this year as the Calabasas, California-based company reached for Catapult Communications in June for $105m as well as wrapped up its $44m acquisition of rival Agilent Technologies’ N2X product line earlier this month. For those keeping track, Ixia’s recent deals represent some 85% of all M&A spending at the company since 2002. (We would note that the pickup in dealmaking, coincidentally or not, has come since a European private equity investor joined the firm’s board and its strategic planning committee in October 2008.) Having recently assumed the role of consolidator, the small-cap vendor ($425m market capitalization) says it still has about $85m in cash after its recent purchases and is still pursuing deals. Who might be next?

One of the growing fields in the space is wireless network testing. Given Ixia’s desire for a larger presence in the segment, we think it could look to snap up a company here. Two interesting targets are privately held Metuchen, New Jersey-based Berkeley Varitronics Systems and Bandspeed of Austin, Texas. As for more traditional targets, we would point to competitors ClearSight Networks of Fremont, California, and Canada’s publically traded EXFO. EXFO currently sports an enterprise valuation of approximately $150m and would almost double Ixia’s revenue. Doubling down on EXFO might not be such a bad idea given that, despite its aggressiveness, Ixia is still relatively small compared to larger players such as JDSU and Spirent, which could look to do some consolidation in the space of their own.

Ixia’s historical acquisitions

Date announced Target Deal value
October 21, 2009 Agilent Technologies (N2X product line assets) $44m
May 11, 2009 Catapult Communications $105m
January 24, 2006 Dilithium Networks (test tool business assets) $5.1m
July 18, 2005 Communication Machinery $4m
July 14, 2003 NetIQ (Chariot product assets) $17.5m
February 15, 2002 Empirix (ANVL product assets) $5m

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase