Industry Update

Williams Communications Inc. (Tulsa, OK) and Intel signed an agreement for Intel (Santa Clara, CA) to purchase $200 million in Williams Communications stock. Williams will become a provider of network transport for Web-hosting computer centers in the United States being constructed by Intel's new Internet Data Services business. The agreement is subject to certain closing conditions, including normal regulatory approval for the stock purchase. Williams also entered into a nonexclusive strategic alliance with Mexico's Telefonos de Mexico S.A. de C.V. (TelMex) to enhance international tele communications between Mexico and the United States. Under terms of the agreement, Williams and TelMex will interconnect their long-distance fiber-optic networks to jointly develop seamless voice, data, and video transport services in their respective markets. As part of the relationship, TelMex plans to acquire up to $100 million of class A common stock in Williams Communications. Williams also announced its entry into intercity markets through a 20-year agreement with Metromedia Fiber Network Inc. (New York City) for a swap of dark fiber, collocation, maintenance services, and building access.

Tyco Submarine Systems Ltd. (Morristown, NJ) and Nortel Networks (Brampton, ON, Canada) agreed to jointly provide optical solutions for global terrestrial and undersea communications networks. The scope of the agreement includes joint marketing, supply, services and, possibly, research and development. The collaborative effort could enable the deployment of very large intercontinental optical networks for global carriers deploying the optical Internet.

Pirel Cables and Systems North America (Columbia, SC) and Hitachi Telecom USA Inc. (Norcross, GA) announced the successful completion of extensive interoperability testing involving Hitachi's AMN 5192 Synchronous Optical Network (SONET) OC-192 terminal and Pirelli's WaveMux DWDM system. The tests demonstrated the overall compatibility of the two systems with a variety of fiber types and channel combinations. Last March, Frontier Communications (Rochester, NY) announced it plans to deploy the equipment combination on the fiber-optic network express lane it is developing to connect 120 U.S. markets.

Draka Holding N.V. (Amsterdam) announced it would merge with NKF Holding N.V. (Delft, Netherlands) to form a cable and cable systems group. Draka will make a bid for all outstanding common shares of NKF. The joining of Draka and NKF creates a major supplier of cable products, including telecommunications cables and cable systems. Plasma Optical Fibre B.V. (Eindhoven, Netherlands) is a Draka company.

ADC Telecommunications Inc. (Minneapolis, MN) acquired the assets of Spectracom (White Bear Lake, MN), a developer of high-powered pump-laser chips and modules for use in fiber-optic networks. The acquisition provides ADC with more depth in the optics market and positions the company as a major supplier of both passive and active optical components and modules to telecommunications original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The deal is valued at about $105 million, with $60 million paid in cash at closing and a possible additional $45 million payable based on future technology developments.

Teleglobe Communications Corp. (Res ton, VA) signed a full-time lease agreement with the British Broadcasting Corp. (London) for the transmission of live news events over Teleglobe's ATM-based fiber-optic video network. The agreement makes Teleglobe the first provider of undersea fiber-optic transatlantic broadcast transmission for the BBC. The BBC signed a two-year lease to transmit live news feeds from its news bureaus in New York City and Washington, DC, directly to BBC TV Centre in London.

Corning Inc. (Corning, NY) announced it would supply its LEAF optical fiber to COLT Telecom Group plc (London) in Germany as part of COLT's pan-European network build. The fiber will be used exclusively for the long-haul portion of the project. LEAF fiber is a nonzero dispersion-shifted fiber designed primarily for high-capacity, long-distance optical networks.

Sycamore Networks (Chelmsford, MA) netted a contract from Millennium Optical Networks Inc. (New York City), a competitive local-exchange carrier (CLEC) providing carrier-to-carrier communications in the metropolitan New York City market. Initially valued at $3 million, the contract will cover a build-out through year-end 1999. Millennium will deploy Sycamore's SN 8000 series of intelligent optical-networking solutions designed for high-speed services in short- and medium-haul environments.

Methode Electronics Inc. (Chicago) acquired Polycore Technologies (Melbourne, FL), a developer of highly integrated data-communications modules for local area network (LAN) equipment. The acquisition will operate as a new business division called Methode Communication Modules and continue to develop single-component solutions for Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Token Ring, ATM, and Fiber Distributed Data Interface (FDDI) applications.

Digital Island (San Francisco) announced a network-security organization, the Systems Administration, Networking, and Security (SANS) Institute, as a customer, in support of the important research and education of network professionals. Digital Island's global intelligent network provides more security than the public Internet by minimizing the number of router hops, according to the company. SANS is using Digital Island's application hosting and content distribution services to securely and reliably deploy key research reports, electronic digests, educational material, and software to its 66,000 members.

C-COR Electronics Inc. (State College, PA) signed a letter of intent to acquire Silicon Valley Communications Inc. (Santa Clara, CA), a technology company and supplier of fiber-optic transmission systems used in hybrid fiber/coaxial-cable (HFC) networks. The transaction, to be completed this summer, is subject to certain conditions. The deal is valued at more than $50 million in stock and debt assumption. C-COR is merging with Convergence.com (Atlanta) and will change its name to C-CORE.net upon completion of the merger.

Two industry entities will participate in Pluris Inc.'s (Cupertino, CA) Pluris Partner Program to evaluate the Internet protocol-based Pluris 20000 Terabit Network Router, for use in their network infrastructures. Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany) and Japan's National Center for Science Information Systems (NACSIS) have agreed to conduct trials. Deutsche Telekom is interested in the Pluris 20000 for use in its next-generation backbone architecture. nacsis would use the router to interconnect and provide Internet services to more than 800 universities and research institutes throughout Japan.

The Fiber Jack Industry Roundtable, comprising more than 50 industry companies, was formed to support and promote the use of Panduit Corp.'s (Tinley Park, IL) opti-jack fiber-optic connector. The opti-jack proclaims itself as the market's first small-form-factor, RJ-45 style fiber-optic connector, released in 1996. The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA-Arlington, VA) recently completed work on a standard for the "Fiber Jack" interface, known as the TIA FOCIS-6 Connector Interface Standard.

Ortel Corp. (Alhambra, CA) signed a contract to provide its new Model 2860A 10-Gbit/sec digital receiver to a top-tier telecommunications equipment manufacturer. The initial order is for $800,000 with a multimillion-dollar potential. The buyer's name was not released, but the receivers will be used in transport equipment for data and video traffic.

Hitachi Telecom USA Inc. (Norcross, GA) formed a strategic alliance with Nexabit Networks (Marlboro, MA) for the development of ultra-high-bandwidth optical-internetworking solutions for data routing and transport. A key element in the Hitachi-Nexabit solution is a 10-Gbit/sec optical interface that allows Nexabit's NX64000 Multi-Terabit Core Switch/Router to match up with Hitachi's AMN 6100 DWDM system, eliminating the need for transponders. As highlighted on page 4, Nexabit was recently acquired by Lucent Technologies (Murray Hill, NJ).

Four global telecommunications "big hitters" joined forces to develop a common technical specification for high-capacity optical-networking access systems, specifically passive optical-network (PON) systems. The companies, BellSouth (Atlanta), British Telecommunications plc (London), France Telecom (Paris), and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (Tokyo), cooperated to create a common requirements specification that they believe will speed optical networking direct to businesses and homes. PON technology uses only optical fiber and passive optical splitters in its outside plant. All four companies have been cooperating in the Full Service Access Network (FSAN) initiative, in which 20 international network operators have combined to develop ATM PONs.

Telstra Corp. Ltd. (Melbourne, Australia) announced a major role in a consortium planning a new international submarine cable catering to Australia's explosive demand for Internet access, as well as voice, data, and multimedia services. With a design capacity of 640 Gbits/sec, the proposed Australia-Japan cable would potentially have more than 500 times the combined capacity of the existing PacRim West and PacRim East cables connecting Australia to Asia and North America, respectively. Subject to approval by all parties, the 10,200-km cable would be ready for service in 2001. A final decision to proceed with construction of the proposed undersea cable is expected later this year, following the evaluation of feasibility study findings.

Alcatel (Paris) got the nod from GlobeNet Communications Group Ltd. (St. David's, Bermuda) to construct Atlantica-1, scheduled to be the first independent, private undersea cable network linking North and South America. The 22,500-km Atlantica-1 self-healing ring network will use Alcatel's DWDM technology. The cable will be capable of carrying 1.28 Tbits/sec of voice, data, and video traffic over four fiber pairs, each with 32 wavelengths. Atlantica-1 will be completed in two phases. The ring network between Tuckerton, NJ; St. David's, Bermuda; Fortaleza, Brazil; Punta Gorda, Venezuela; and Boca Raton, FL, is scheduled for completion by the end of 2000. Links between Tuckerton, Bermuda, and Fortaleza are planned for service in September 2000. A further link between Fortaleza and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is scheduled for completion in February 2001.

Cisco Systems Inc. (San Jose, CA) completed the acquisition of Sentient Networks Inc. (Milpitas, CA). On April 8, 1999, Cisco announced a definitive agreement to acquire privately held Sentient, a pioneer in high-density ATM circuit-emulation services (CES) technology. CES enables carriers to efficiently transport circuit-based private-line services across packet-based ATM networks. The transaction will be accounted for as a pooling of interests.

Financing was completed for the Pangea-1 fiber-optic cable system that will link seven countries in Northern Europe and Scandinavia. Pangea Ltd. (Hamilton, Bermuda) received a commitment of $310 million in financing from a banking group headed by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. Pangea-1 will link London, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo, and Helsinki with self-healing optical rings capable of up to 1.28-Tbit/sec transmission. The system is planned for operations in the fourth quarter of 2000.

Metromedia Fiber Network Inc. (MFN-New York City) and AboveNet Communications Inc. (San Jose, CA) entered into a merger agreement. Under terms of the agreement, which was unanimously approved by the board of directors for both companies, AboveNet would become a wholly owned subsidiary of MFN upon consummation of the acquisition. In a stock exchange, the holders of AboveNet common stock will receive 1.175 shares of MFN class A common stock for each share. Upon completion of the transaction, AboveNet shareholders will own approximately 16.5% of the fully diluted aggregate number of class A and class B shares of MFN.

Worldwide Fiber Inc. (Vancouver, BC, Canada) signed letters of intent with three major suppliers for optical and switching systems to activate existing dark fiber assets stretching from Seattle to Vancouver to Toronto via Minneapolis, Chicago, and Detroit. The announcement represents Worldwide Fiber's entry into the carrier's carrier service market, following its evolution from contractor to developer to telecommunications operator. Worldwide Fiber plans to continue developing its fiber assets to increase its network value. Nortel Networks (Brampton, ON, Canada) will provide its OpTera LH dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM) system. FORE Systems Inc.'s (Pittsburgh, PA) AS400 40-Gbit/sec switch will provide the Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) core-switching fabric. Newbridge Networks Ltd. (Kanata, ON, Canada) will supply the ATM edge switches with its MainStreetXpress 36170 Multiservice Switch platform.

Lucent Technologies (Murray Hill, NJ) was selected by Global Access Ltd. (Tokyo), a communications firm jointly funded in Japan by Global Crossing Ltd. (Hamilton, Bermuda) and Marubeni Corp. (Tokyo), to provide its core transmission network. The first phase of the contract is worth approximately $5.8 million and is expected to increase to more than $16 million over the next three years. Global Access plans to configure a backbone transmission network segment from its cable land station to the Tokyo Access Center using Lucent's DWDM WaveStar OLS400G and WaveStar ADM 16/1 multiplexer and transport system. Lucent also announced the acquisition of Nexabit Networks (Marlboro, MA), a privately held start-up developer of Internet protocol wide area network switching and routing equipment, for about 14 million shares of Lucent common stock. Based on Lucent's June 24 closing share price, the transaction is worth approximately $900 million.

Ireland will tap into the Global Crossing worldwide fiber-optic network through a new undersea cable system. The system will ensue from an agreement between the Irish government and Global Crossing Ireland (Dublin), a wholly owned subsidiary of Global Crossing Ltd. (Hamilton, Bermuda). The system will link Ireland's leading companies and multinationals to the major cities of Europe and the world. Global Crossing will develop and own the system, and the Irish government will be the system's anchor customer under an $80-million agreement. According to Ireland's Ministry for Public Enterprise, the country's Web-based and data-based businesses will grow 100-fold by 2002-provided competitive broadband capacity and international connectivity are in place. Global Marine Systems Ltd., Global Crossing's new undersea cable division, will provide installation and maintenance for the undersea portion of the Irish system. Global Crossing acquired its new division by completing its $850-million acquisition of the Cable & Wireless plc (London) submarine cable maintenance and installation business. Global Crossing's new unit includes 15 cable ships, three installation barges, and 22 submersible vehicles.

Marconi Communications Ltd. (Coventry, UK) is pouncing on Singapore's telecommunications market with orders from Singapore Telecommunications topping $20.8 million. Marconi will supply SDH transmission equipment to help expand the SingTel network. It has also delivered a total network for SingTel's international division that includes a link to the SEA-ME-WE3 undersea fiber-optic cable currently under construction. The company also unveiled Marconi Communications Singapore Private Ltd., a new regional base for installation, sales and support activity throughout Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

E-TEK Dynamics Inc. (San Jose, CA) added a new technology platform to its offerings with a deal to acquire ElectroPhotonics Corp. (Toronto), an independent developer of components and modules for optical networks, including DWDM components, dispersion-compensation modules, and network performance-monitoring subsystems. Under the agreement, conditional upon shareholder approval, shares of E-TEK common stock and cash with an aggregate value of approximately $40 million will be exchanged for all outstanding ElectroPhotonics shares.

More in Mergers & Acquisitions