Vodafone in $1.7bn takeover deal

The company acquired Cable & Wireless Worldwide, becoming the UK's second biggest mobile and fixed-line operator.

Over the last two weeks, the international ICT world was dominated by Vodafone's $1.7 billion takeover of C&W Worldwide. But there were also many smaller deals, including two by both IBM and Microchip Technology, and others from Cisco, EMC, Intel and Open Text.

At home, it has been a quiet time because of the holidays, with the disposal by SecureData of its UK operations being one of the main stories.

Key local news of the past two weeks

Facebook's IPO on 18 May could raise as much as $10 billion and value the company at close to $100 billion.

Paul Booth, MD, Global Research Partners

* An interim loss from ConvergeNet Holdings, with revenue also down 16.3%.
* A full year loss from Altech, with revenue only up 3.3%.
* Positive trading updates from Huge Group, Reunert and Vodacom.
* Datatec (Logicalis) acquired Australia-based Corpnet, a provider of IT solutions including data centre, cloud and managed services solutions, for $3.3 million.
* EOH bought Faculty Training Institute, a training group that provides business analyst, project management, enterprise architecture and testing training.
* SDH Bidco, a newly-formed special purpose vehicle, purchased the UK business of SecureData Holdings for lb16.6 million.
* MTN's subscriber base grew 3.7% in Q1 2012 to reach 170 573 000, with SA's base growing 3.2%.
* Yahsat, an Abu Dhabi-based company, has launched the Y1-B satellite that will cover SA with 6 ka-band spot beams, and through Vox Telecom, will offer satellite broadband services.
* The appointments of Saki Missaikos as MD of Internet Solutions; Puleng Sejanamane as CEO of Broadband Infraco; and Derek Wilcox as CEO of Dimension Data MEA.
* The resignations of Alan Cawood, CEO of Dimension Data MEA; and Norbert Claussen, CEO of Powertech, part of the Altron Group.

Key African news

[EMBEDDED]* Good year-end figures from Econet Wireless, with revenue up 24% and profit up 18%.
* A quarterly loss from Mobinil (Egypt), although revenue was up 3.9%.
* A report by HIS iSuppli Broadband & Digitally Connected Home Market Tracker said the developing regions of the world will be the biggest source for new broadband activity in 2012, with 17% growth, compared to a less than 7% growth in the developed markets of Europe and North America.
* Glo Mobile (Nigeria) has commenced commercial services in that country.
* HP has opened an office in Ethiopia.

Key international news

* Cisco acquired Truviso, a provider of scalable, real-time network data analysis and reporting software.
* Dassault Systemes bought GemCom, a Canadian software modelling company, for $360 million.
* EMC purchased Israeli-based XtremIO, a flash memory enterprise storage systems company, for $400 million.
* Facebook acquired 650 of the patents recently sold by AOL to Microsoft, for $550 million.
* IBM bought Tealeaf Technology, a maker of software that helps companies analyse and react more quickly to customer behaviour.
* IBM purchased Vivisimo, a provider of federated discovery and navigation software that helps organisations access and analyse big data across the enterprise.
* Integrated Device Technology acquired PLX Technology, in a move that will help expand the former's core serial switching and interface business. The deal was worth $330 million.
* Intel bought certain networking assets of Cray, the supercomputer maker, for $140 million.
* Intuit purchased Demandforce, a software maker for SMEs, for $423.5 million.
* LinkedIn paid $119 million for SlideShare, an online presentation service.
* Microchip Technology acquired Roving Networks, a developer of wireless network and Bluetooth electronics solutions.
* Microchip Technology bought Standard Microsystems, a creator of technology that enables the data connections in USB devices and wireless-audio products. The deal was worth $939 million.
* Micros Systems purchased Torex Retail Holdings from its private equity owners for lb162.5 million. The latter is a provider of IT systems for the retail, fuel and convenience stores and pub markets in the UK and continental Europe.
* Open Text acquired EasyLink Services International, a global provider of cloud-based electronic messaging and business integration services, for $310 million.
* Teradata bought eCircle, a German provider of integrated marketing management software.
* Vodafone purchased Cable & Wireless Worldwide, in a move that will create the UK's second biggest mobile and fixed-line operator, behind BT Group. The deal was worth $1.7 billion.
* Wipro acquired Promax Applications Group, an Australian player in the trade promotion planning, management and optimisation solutions space, for AU$35 million.
* Microsoft made a $300 million investment in Barnes & Noble's Nook e-reader unit.
* Alisher Usmanov, a Russian tycoon, made a further investment in Megafon, in a move that will raise his stake to 50% plus one share. It includes some of the stakes held by Alfa Group and TeliaSonera.
* Strategy Analytics said Samsung has regained the lead from Apple in Q1 as the biggest vendor of smartphones, with Nokia taking third place.
* Excellent quarterly results from Apple, Baidu, LinkedIn and Yandex.
* Very good quarterly figures from China Unicom, LSI, Teradata and Western Digital.
* Good quarterly numbers from American Tower, Ariba, ARM Holdings, BCE, Check Point Software Technologies, Comcast, Dassault Systemes, Diebold, EMC, Equifax, Gartner, Informatica, Micros Systems, Samsung Electronics, SAP, Saudi Telecom, Tata Consultancy Services, Turkcell and VeriSign.
* Satisfactory quarterly results from ADP, Amdocs, AT&T, CACI International, Canon, DST Systems, Fiserv, Hon Hai Precision Industry, Ingram Micro, Lockheed Martin, Netgear, NTT DoCoMo, Symantec, Unisys (back in the black) and Wipro.
* Satisfactory full-year numbers from Softbank.
* Mediocre quarterly results from Acer, Alcatel-Lucent (but back in the black), Arrow Electronics, Atmel, Corning, France Telecom, HTC, InterDigital, Iron Mountain, Juniper Networks, KPN, L-3 Communications, Lexmark, Maxim Integrated Products, Molex, Rogers Communications, Software AG, Texas Instruments and Xilinx.
* Mediocre year-end figures from Kyocera.
* Mixed quarterly figures from Akamai Technologies, with revenue up but profit down;, with revenue up but profit down; Amazon, with revenue up but profit down; Bharti Airtel, with revenue up but profit down; Broadcom, with revenue up but profit down; Canon, with revenue down but profit up; China Telecom, with revenue up but profit down; Citrix Systems, with revenue up but profit down; Ericsson, with revenue down but profit up; Facebook, with revenue up but profit down; Flextronics, with revenue down but profit up; Garmin, with revenue up but profit down; Huawei Technologies, with revenue up but profit down; Idea Cellular, with revenue up but profit down; LKA-Tencor, with revenue up but profit down; LG Electronics, with revenue down but back in the black; Logitech International, with revenue down but profit up; MicroStrategy, with revenue up but profit down; Motorola Solutions, with revenue up but profit down; Open Text, with revenue up but profit down; Plantronics, with revenue up but profit down; Sapient, with revenue up but profit down; TSMC, with revenue up but profit down; UMC, with revenue down but profit up; and Xerox, with revenue up but profit down.
* Very poor quarterly figures from Interactive Intelligence.
* Quarterly losses from Clearwire, CSR, Eastman Kodak, Harris, Imation, JDS Uniphase, Leap Wireless, Level 3 Communications, LG Display, Motorola Mobility, Netflix, NetSuite, RF Micro Devices, Sanmina-SCI, SK Hynix, Sprint Nextel, ST-Ericsson, STMicroelectronics, Tellabs, TomTom and Zynga.
* The appointments of Michael Combes as chairman and CEO of SFR, part of the Vivendi Group; and Simon Moutter as CEO of Telecom New Zealand.
* The resignations of Michael Combes, Vodafone's head of its European operations; John Maloney, president of Tumblr; and Paul Sagan, CEO of Akamai Technologies (as from not later than the end of 2013).
* A mediocre IPO on Nasdaq by Envivio, a telecommunications software specialist.

Look out for

* International:
* The acquisition by Google of Twitter, with Microsoft, News Corporation and Yahoo also being other possible contenders.
* Facebook's IPO on 18 May, which could raise as much as $10 billion and value the company at close to $100 billion.
* Micron Technology being the 'winner' in the bid for Elpida Memory.
* South Africa:
* Further developments regarding the Reunert/Holdsworth 'spat'.

Research results and predictions

* The EMEA e-book market more than doubled in 2011, with Amazon the market leader, followed by Sony, according to IDC.
* The global notebook market will reach 55 million units in Q2 2012, a 9.5% growth from Q1 2011, according to Digitimes Research.
* Customer experience has entered the top 10 CIO technology priorities for this year, reports Gartner.
* The unified threat management market surpassed the $1 billion mark in 2011, according to Gartner.
* Africa leads the world when it comes to embracing new technology, with a growth of 41% in 2011 compared to China's 34% and the US's 12%, according to Intel.
* Smartphone shipments will reach 1.7 billion in 2017, with the market share of the Android OS reaching 48%, followed by Apple's iOS with 27%, predicts Ovum.

Stock market changes

* JSE All share index: Down 0.3%
* Nasdaq: Down 1.5%
* Top SA share movements: AdaptIT (+12.5%), African Cellular Towers (+20%), Ideco (+15.4%), Ifca Technologies (+12.5%), ISA (+10.5%), Jasco (+9.6%), SecureData (+50%), Sekunjalo (+13.2%), Telemasters (-19.7%) and Zaptronix (+50%)

Final word

Jon Fell, a partner and telecoms expert at the UK-based law firm, Pinsent Masons, recently suggested in an opinion piece, in the latest edition of European Communications, that the telecommunications industry is going through its biggest era of change since the introduction of mobile telephony. Put simply, telecoms companies must adapt or die in the new 'always on', data-driven world.

He believes the days of trying to be everything to everyone have passed. Whether mobile or fixed-line, telcos need to concentrate on what they're good at, offering a complete set of services to others and maximising revenue from their existing infrastructure. In his mind, these changes will take place in the context of five key trends, which will dominate the telecoms industry over the next 12 months. Although the article is Europe-oriented, the trends are just as pertinent to our own situation in SA. They are: coping with the data explosion, spectrum use, mobile payments, use of smart devices for work, and regulatory changes.

Paul Booth

Paul Booth is an independent commentator who looks for significance in what ICT vendors haven't said.

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