Videoconferencing systems are a hot commodity right now -- and nobody looks hotter than Polycom
A few months ago, Cisco Systems
In the latest evidence of that trend, Polycom is in serious talks with private equity firm Apax Partners to go private for $3.1 billion. According to Financial Times, negotiations have been going on since last November; Polycom's rising stock price has steadily pushed the price tag northward.
The deal may vaporize in a haze of rising expectations and share prices, but the news that Polycom is thinking about strategic alternatives could open the door for another, deeper-pocketed partner to step in. Antitrust concerns would probably stop Cisco from buying both Polycom and Tandberg, but the gamut of possible buyers could include multinational giants like Hewlett-Packard
Videoconferencing is an idea whose time has come. Network-powered meetings across nations and continents can make a lot of financial sense when compared with jumping on a plane for every face-to-face powwow. High-definition screens and cameras can make for a very lifelike experience, lacking only handshakes and the occasional spitball fight. The global infrastructure of the Internet has grown up fast, and it can handle impressive feats nowadays.
Polycom generates positive cash flows quarter after quarter, which also makes it attractive to private equity players such as Apax. The rising interest in its industry has doubled its share price in 12 months, with a 54% jump since early November. Whether the company now goes private, joins a larger company somewhere, or stays put, Polycom's shareholders win.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Polycom is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Logitech is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection. Motley Fool Options has recommended writing covered calls on Logitech and also owns shares of the company. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.