Acquisitions and accolades

On Thursday, February 5, as the editorial staff here was putting together the contents of our biweekly e-mail newsletter called "Cabling News," scheduled for delivery the next day, there wasn't a doubt in my mind that the top story would be...

Mar 1st, 2004

On Thursday, February 5, as the editorial staff here was putting together the contents of our biweekly e-mail newsletter called "Cabling News," scheduled for delivery the next day, there wasn't a doubt in my mind that the top story would be the closing of CommScope's acquisition of Avaya's connectivity solutions business.

CommScope announced the closing on February 2. The story "has legs," as we say in the journalism business, meaning it remains interesting news for a while, and a legal formality like the passing of official paperwork is worth publicizing.

Well, if the CommScope-Avaya story has legs, then so does the news that hit my in-box the morning of February 5. Just when the next day's newsletter was all put together and scheduled for delivery, I read that Belden and Cable Design Technologies (CDT) had agreed to effect a merger of equals. That means it's not one company buying the other (or a portion of the other) like CommScope buying Avaya's ACS business.

In this situation, according to statements released by both parties, shareholders of the former Belden will hold approximately 55% of the combined company's shares and shareholders of the former CDT will hold 45%. The name of the merged company, by the way, will be Belden CDT. Both sides expect the deal to close in the second quarter of this year.

I'm sure it's just me, but I thought that a "merger of equals" would have resulted in a 50-50 ownership. Well, not really. I got educated on that one when my wife's company recently completed a merger of equals. That was a 51-49 split. I will be sure to let you know if I hear of a merger of equals that is actually equal. Don't hold your breath.

Needless to say, the contents of the February 6 issue of "Cabling News" were shuffled the afternoon of February 5, and when it was distributed the next day, the top story was, in fact, the Belden-CDT story.

You will find some analysis of the two deals in this issue (see page xx), including insight from cabling-industry watcher Lone Hansen of BSRIA. So, I won't reiterate everything here. I'll just share with you the epiphany I had the weekend following this merger news. Ready for this one? ... You don't make changes to stay the same. I'd like to say it's simple yet brilliant. But really, it's simple yet simple.

Expect some changes from one or both of these deals. The involved parties estimate that Belden CDT will be a $1.3 billion company. Avaya's Systimax brand has been the market-share leader in structured cabling for some time. I'm 100% sure that none of these companies entered the deals they did to lose ground in the market.

I'm not being completely flip when I say they want to take over the world. Both deals could position the companies to garner more of the European cabling market. And that could be just the beginning.

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In last month's editorial, I reported on some of the buzz in the air at the BICSI Winter Conference. The night after I filed that article, our own Donna Ballast received BICSI's Harry J. Pfister Award—the cabling industry's lifetime achievement award. I selfishly call her "our own," but that's a figure of speech only. Throughout her career, Donna has done an unbelievable amount of work for the benefit of this industry—the vast majority of it behind the scenes and not nearly as high-profile as her contributions to the pages of an industry publication.

Thousands of cabling professionals, while not having seen her at work, have benefited from the results of that work without even knowing it. Whether it is bringing the voice of reason to a standards meeting or lending years of hands-on experience to the crafting of a design manual, Donna has fought the good fight—and there's no doubt that some if it has indeed been a fight. Any of my attempts to quantify her contributions would be futile, so I'll say to all of you what I said to her:

The hard-working people of our industry have never had a better friend and advocate than Donna Ballast. I, for one, am gratified that her dedication has been recognized.

Patrick McLaughlin
Chief Editor
patrick@pennwell.com

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