BT is trying for a third time to crack the US market with the purchase of Infonet for a massive $965 million.
Infonet operates in over 70 countries and supplies services such as virtual private networks and ATM (asynchronous transfer mode), to thousands of multi-national companies, including Nestle and Hitachi. However, it is loss-making.
Its shareholders are six network operators from across the world, all of whom thought they had hit the big time during the dotcom boom when Infonet was valued at a ridiculous $10 billion. They have all agreed to sell their shares to BT, and you can't help but think they're glad to be shot of it.
Is BT setting itself up for another massive fall, following the abortive effort to get hold of MCI and then the knee-jerk reaction to set up Concert with AT&T which proved to be a very expensive disaster? Quite possibly yes.
In fact, recognising the fact that BT shareholders will most likely be holding their head in their hands, BT has included in its press release announcing the deal an entire section called "Rationale for the Transaction". The main reason is Infonet's 1,800 multi-national customers that BT wants to get hold of, in particular in the States.
Existing customers will also benefit from Infonet's technology, BT claimed - cutting-edge fault management, order management, pricing and billing systems and tools. Although for $1 billion you would be able to buy that technology much cheaper elsewhere.
"Infonet customers will for the first time be able to acquire in-country, as well as international, managed network services from a single truly global source," BT continues to promise. "In addition, BT expects to offer its portfolio of IT services, outsourcing solutions and its voice communications products to the Infonet customer base."
But not just yet: "Recognising the quality of both product sets and their importance to both sets of customers, BT intends to operate both platforms in parallel for some time. The integration and harmonisation of these will be managed so as to continue the best of both for the combined business and its customers."
BT then goes on to state the same thing several more times using different words.
CEO Ben Verwaayen chips in: "This is another milestone in BT’s transformation into a leading global provider of IT and networking services. It is our goal to be the first choice for multi-site organisations around the world as they address their increasingly complex communications needs."
BT Global Services head Andy Green is also convinced: "Infonet brings us specialist skills, a great customer base, increased global reach and additional local presence where we need it. By combining the strengths of both companies, we will substantially improve our ability to help our new and existing customers address the challenges and opportunities of the digital networked economy."
Has BT just wasted nearly a billion dollars (£520m) on chasing a long-lost dream? Quite probably, yes.
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