Entries in Deal - Other (2)


Granite State Acquires Cocci Computer Services

Expands Service Offerings and Gains Statewide Presence

Weare, N.H.-based Granite State Communications (GSC) announced on December 28, 2011 it has completed its acquisition of Hooksett, N.H.-based Cocci Computer Services, a computer networking and hardware solutions company.  Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Over the last few years, I’ve often written about the public ILECs and their search for new revenue streams. Business services, data centers and cloud computing are just a few of the various new services some ILECs are providing as a way to offset the decline of the traditional telephone business.   With some experts predicting the public switched telephone network (PSTN) will be gone by 2018 as Americans are increasingly cutting the cord in favor of wireless and IP-based voice services, ILECs no longer have time to take a “wait and see” approach.  And with its acquisition of Cocci, GSC has taken a proactive approach to the future.

GSC today is the result of the merger of what were once four separate telephone companies: Chester Telephone Company, Sandown Telephone Company, Weare Telephone Company and Triangle Telephone Company.  Company origins go back to 1877 in Chester, N.H. when the state legislature granted a charter to what was then known as the Chester and Derry Telegraph Company.  GSC provides telephone and Internet services to 9,000 customers in seven N.H. communities, and has recently been deploying fiber optic cable in portions of its service area.  But, access lines have fallen at a compound annual rate of approximately 6% over the last two years. And while the rate of losses slowed considerably in 2010 compared to 2009, it’s unlikely that growth in broadband revenue will both offset declining access line revenue and provide long-term sustainable growth.

Cocci has been providing computer networking solutions to small and mid-sized businesses statewide for more than 28 years.  The Company offers a range of services including network installation and security, server and desktop monitoring, and offsite data backup and disaster recovery, with plans to introduce additional cloud services and mobility solutions in the near term.  “These services fit perfectly into the long-range planning for Granite State Communications as we work to increase our customer base and expand our list of products available to the public,” says GSC president Susan Rand King.

By acquiring Cocci, GSC has gained a new list of services it can offer to its existing customers. But perhaps more importantly, GSC, through Cocci, now has a statewide presence where before it was limited to its seven community service area. This acquisition certainly provides GSC with a platform for growth, and it now comes down to execution.


West Corporation Continues Buying Spree

Smoothstone IP Communications Latest in String of Deals

On April 20, 2011, voice and data solutions provider West Corporation announced its subsidiary, Intercall, has entered into an agreement to acquire cloud-based unified communications provider Smoothstone IP Communications for approximately $120m. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2011.

Louisville, Ky.-based Smoothstone is a provider of cloud based communications for the enterprise, including multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) based application network management, enterprise voice, unified threat management, advanced contact center solutions, unified messaging and collaboration tools, all delivered as a unified suite of cloud-based applications. Smoothstone provides service in 42 states and the District of Columbia; however, the company does not provide service in any of the operating territories of West Corp.’s incumbent LEC affiliates.

Cloud computing is all the rage lately, and companies like Omaha, Neb.-based West Corp. are working hard to position themselves to capture as much cloud based business as possible.  West Corp., through its subsidiaries, provides a range of communications and network infrastructure solutions, including customer contact and conferencing services.  West Corp.’s subsidiaries include conferencing and collaboration service provider InterCall, e911 provider Intrado, hosted and managed automated customer contact solutions provider West Interactive, systems integration and consultation provider SKT Business Communication Solutions, B2B inside sales solutions provider West Business Services, direct response solutions provider West Direct, and receivables management solutions provider West Asset Management.

Over the last year and a half, the company and its subsidiaries have pursued growth through acquisition.  Not including Smoothstone, West Corp. has completed eight acquisitions totaling more than $125m related to cloud computing since December 2009.  Rather than develop products and services internally, West Corp. is clearly on the hunt for complimentary offerings.  For instance, West Corp. acquired virtual events and business environments provider Unisfair on March 1, 2011, which should fit well with the web event (a.k.a. webcast) services it picked up with its Stream57 acquisition in December 2009. Each of these deals adds a specific product or service that, when combined with the other service offerings, creates a comprehensive collection of services.

Despite the recent buying spree, West Corp. still has money in the bank- as of March 31, 2011 the company reported approximately $100m in cash and equivalents. West Corp.’s majority owner is Thomas H. Lee (55-60%); other owners include the Quadrangle Group Funds, whose current investments include Hargray Communications Group, Ntelos and Cequel Communications d/b/a Suddenlink; and Gary L. West and Mary E. West.