Canada’s Mitel to Buy Polycom for $1.8 Billion

The merger of the two telecom equipment providers was encouraged by an activist investor with stakes in both companies.
Katie Kuehner-HebertApril 15, 2016

In a telecom equipment marriage made in part by an activist investor, Canada’s Mitel Networks said Friday it would buy San Jose, Calif.-based Polycom for $1.8 billion.

The companies are both in the business of providing voice and telephony gear, competing with the likes of Cisco and Avaya. According to TechCrunch, Mitel is perhaps best known for IP telephony solutions including PBX systems, while Polycom is a leader in conferencing services.

The cash-and-stock deal values Polycom at $13.44 a share, a premium of 9.5% to Thursday’s closing price. On Friday, the stock fell 2% to $12.02 while Mitel closed down 9.6% at $7.12.

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“Polycom is … synonymous with the high quality and innovative conference and video capabilities that are now the norm of everyday collaboration,” Mitel CEO Rich McBee said in a news release. “Together with industry-leading voice communications from Mitel, the combined company will have the talent and technology needed to truly deliver integrated solutions to businesses and service providers across enterprise, mobile and cloud environments.”

The companies came together at the urging of activist investor Elliott Management Corp., which in October disclosed a 6.6% stake in Polycom and a 9.6% stake in Mitel.

Elliott proposed that the larger Polycom pay between $1 billion and $1.2 billion for control of Mitel, but move its headquarters from California to Ottawa, allowing it to lower its tax bill.

McBee told The Wall Street Journal that the deal had been on  Mitel’s radar for three years and, although Polycom shareholders are expected to have about a 60% stake in the new company, “it had always been Mitel acquiring Polycom.”

“We’re very compatible companies in very fast-moving technology markets,” he said. “It’s through consolidation of the market that we’re going to shake it up.”

As TechCrunch reports, telecom equipment providers have been consolidating as they “continue to grow to provide end-to-end services — and to shore up against smaller, newer and less expensive offerings from the likes of Slack, Skype, Google Hangouts and more.”