Ex-NSN optical division anticipates new start as Coriant

March 27, 2013
Marlin Equity Partners’ acquisition of the optical networks division of Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) has yet to close. But that didn’t stop the private investment firm and the management of what will become Coriant from using OFC/NFOEC last week to get an early start on what its new CEO said is its goal: becoming “the Number 2 or Number 3” optical network equipment firm in the market.

Marlin Equity Partners’ acquisition of the optical networks division of Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN; see "Nokia Siemens Networks to sell optical network hardware business to Marlin Equity Partners") has yet to close. But that didn’t stop the private investment firm and the management of what will become Coriant from using OFC/NFOEC last week to get an early start on what its new CEO said is its goal: becoming “the Number 2 or Number 3” optical network equipment supplier.

The Coriant team is about to be “unleashed,” according to its initial marketing campaign as well as Herbert Merz, who will become president and CEO when the transaction closes sometime during the first half of this year. Asked what was so confining about being part of NSN, Merz explained that companies of NSN’s large size tend to standardize sales processes and strategies for customer engagement. Coriant, on the other hand, will be free to shape its strategies specifically for the optical networking market, he said.

Coriant will start from a position of profitability, according to Merz and Marlin Equity Partners operating partner/telecom, Patrick DiPietro. Both declined to supply specific financial details, but the two said that Coriant will be in a position to act on the promise Marlin made in the press release announcing its purchase -- that the new company will “act as a consolidator, building an industry leader in the fragmented optical networking sector.” Neither Merz nor DiPietro would comment on technology or market areas that might provide the first acquisition targets, although DiPietro said Marlin is open to both vertical and horizontal buys.

Instead, they focused on what they consider Coriant’s initial strengths, which include fielded coherent transmission technology for 100 Gbps (XO Communications and TeliaSonera are two such customers; see “XO Communications chooses Nokia Siemens Networks for nationwide 100G network” and “TeliaSonera International Carrier taps Nokia Siemens Networks for 100-Gbps technology”). Merz said the company will pair such proven optical transmission technology with strong software-defined networking (SDN) capabilities, about which Coriant will have more to say in the June timeframe.

As far as a well-rounded optical portfolio is concerned, Merz acknowledged that NSN previously had addressed the metro market through reselling gear developed by other optical communications systems companies. He also would like to beef up its portfolio’s aggregation capabilities. Merz said he has no desire to address the access space.

The relationship between Coriant and Sycamore Network Solutions, which Marlin also has acquired (see “Sycamore Networks Solutions begins new chapter”), remains separate but equal, at least for the moment. DiPietro referred to Sycamore Network Solutions as “a sister company.” Asked how long it would retain that status, DiPietro declined to comment.

For more information on high-speed transmission systems and suppliers, visit the Lightwave Buyer’s Guide.

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