Harmonic buys Scopus, plugs gap

Tue, 12/23/2008 - 6:25am
Brian Santo

Harmonic Inc. is going to buy Scopus Video Networks for $5.62 per share in cash, or about $51 million. Harmonic has been openly looking to somehow secure products in the contribution segment of the video chain, and the acquisition of Scopus will fill that need.

Those products are used by video producers (e.g., video news teams) to encode and upload video for satellite distribution. Tandberg Television is one of the leading providers of such equipment. With the acquisition of Scopus, Harmonic expects to be able to compete more effectively with TandbergTV in that part of the market.

Outside of the contribution products, there appears to be some overlap in the two companies’ product portfolios. Harmonic Vice President David Price said there is probably less than there appears at first glance.

He explained that Harmonic has been reselling Scopus’ IRDs, so there is no overlap there. Both companies have statistical multiplexers, but Harmonic’s tends to be used more frequently in IP-based applications, so there’s less overlap than might be expected there.

With regard to encoders, Harmonic has focused on established markets, while Scopus has tended to operate in developing countries. “We rarely lose business to them, and they rarely lose business to us,” he explained.

Scopus was apparently on a path to get purchased, one way or another. Last July, Optibase, which already held a stake in Scopus, was prepared to buy in deeper, paying $5.25 per share. Subsequently, Scopus turned around and considered buying Optibase, but in early November, Scopus said that deal had fallen through. Neither company offered an explanation, but the announcement coincided with a precipitous drop in the value of Scopus’ stock. On Dec. 1, the value of Scopus’ stock had hit a two-year low of $3.27.

That despite Scopus recording record quarterly revenue of $19.9 million in its third quarter. For the first nine months of 2008, Scopus reported revenues of $55.4 million, an increase of 35 percent over the comparable period of the prior year.

Approximately 79 percent of these revenues were outside of the United States, with no single customer representing more than 10 percent of total revenues. For example, two weeks ago, Scopus announced Brazilian operator RMT was standardizing on Scopus equipment. Harmonic said the acquisition will automatically expand its customer base and area of operations.

Harmonic said it expects to realize cost synergies upon full integration of Scopus of $8 million to $10 million on an annualized basis. Scopus has approximately 300 employees worldwide.

The acquisition is subject to customary conditions, regulatory approvals and the approval of Scopus’ shareholders, and it is expected to close in the latter part of the first quarter of 2009. Harmonic said the acquisition price is net of Scopus’ cash and short-term investments.

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