EXFO Inc. (NASDAQ: EXFO, TSX: EXF) hopes to expand its mobile network activities through the eventual purchase of Astellia (ISIN code: FR0004176535 - mnemonic: ALAST), a French provider of mobile network performance analysis and subscriber experience platforms. EXFO has agreed to buy a 33.1% equity stake in Astellia, which it hopes will set the stage for a voluntary takeover of the company.
Astellia provides network and subscriber intelligence for mobile operators. It says its vendor-independent, real-time monitoring and troubleshooting platform offers end-to-end network optimization as well as geolocated insights and big-data analytics to network operations, service operations center, customer care, and marketing teams.
The current agreement sees EXFO acquiring all the Astellia shares founders Christian Queffelec (president of Astellia), Frédéric Vergine (executive vice president, strategic customer engagements), Julien Lecoeuvre (chief technology and innovation officer), and Emmanuel Audousset (executive vice president, international accounts and indirect sales) now hold, as well as the majority of shares Isatis Capital holds. The resultant 33.1% stake in Astellia will represent an investment of €8.6 million at a price of €10 per Astellia share. EXFO says the per-share price offers a premium of 44.7% over Astellia's closing share price on August 30, 2017, and of 56.1% based on the 12-month volume weighted average price. The company expects to close these acquisitions "in upcoming days," in the words of a press release.
Following an information and consultation process for Astellia's workers councils, EXFO then plans to launch an all-cash voluntary public tender offer to acquire Astellia's remaining shares for the same price. The proposed public offer will be subject to the approval of French foreign investment authorities and the supervision of Autorité des marchés financiers. Should all go smoothly, the public tender should take place around the end of this year.
The plan puts the price tag on the entirety of Astellia at approximately €25.9 million. Astellia's board of directors has expressed its support for EXFO's firm offer.
"This investment in Astellia is in line with our strategy to increase our critical mass and our client base, and to expand our addressable market in the global analytics and service assurance industry," said Germain Lamonde, executive chairman of EXFO's board of directors. "If our public tender offer is successful, we'll be able to combine Astellia's solutions and services with those of EXFO and become a world leader in the network monitoring and analytics sector and target growth opportunities such as network virtualization, 5G, and the internet of things."
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