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Ericsson bids $1.4 bn for Tandberg TV,

Ericsson bids $1.4 bn for Tandberg TV,
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First Published: Tue, Feb 27 2007. 06 37 PM IST
Updated: Tue, Feb 27 2007. 06 37 PM IST
By Reuters
STOCKHOLM: Telecom equipment maker Ericsson offered 9.8 billion crowns ($1.38 billion, Rs61, 684 crore) for Norway’s Tandberg Television on Monday, topping an earlier accepted bid from Arris Group Inc..
Ericsson, which in December paid $2.1 billion for network equipment vendor Redback, said it was bidding 106 Norwegian crowns ($17.23) for each Tandberg share.
The offer represents an 18.2 % premium to Tandberg’s volume-weighted average price over the last three months and is 10.4 % above the 96 crowns offered by Arris, a US communications technology company.
Shares of Arris fell $1.67, or nearly 11%, to $13.62 on Nasdaq after the news. A representative from Arris was not immediately available for comment and a spokesman from its adviser, Carnegie, declined to comment.
Analysts had long expected a counter-bid for Tandberg TV, saying the company had a strong foothold in a market revved up by fast-growing bandwidth and demand for television systems.
Shares in Tandberg, which offers a range of video and TV services over the Internet, shot up 11.5 % to 111.75 crowns by 1235 GMT.
Ericsson shares were 0.6 % higher at 26.05 crowns.
Paul Handeland, analyst at ABG Sundal Collier in Oslo, said Ericsson’s deep pockets would probably scare off Arris, but that other systems operators, such as German giant Siemens or France’s Alcatel-Lucent, may be interested.
“Tandberg TV is trading above the bid price due to market belief in either a bumped-up bid by Ericsson or a potential competing bid ... possibly from the likes of Siemens or Alcatel-Lucent,” Handeland said.
Alcatel-Lucent was not immediately available for comment. Ericsson said it had bought 11.7% of Tandberg shares and that owners of another 13% had signed on to its bid.
Swedish holding company Industrivarden said it sold its 7.4 % stake in Tandberg to Ericsson, while Norwegian conglomerate Orkla sold it a 3-4 % stake.
Strategic
Internet protocol television (IPTV) is seen as a big future money-spinner for telecoms firms, since it combines TV with services such as video-on-demand and IP telephony through a broadband connection.
“IPTV for cable and telecom operators is the biggest networked multimedia opportunity going forward,” Ericsson Chief Executive Carl-Henric Svanberg said in a statement.
“Ericsson and Tandberg Television is a strong combination with a unique ability to offer complete IPTV solutions.”
Tandberg had revenues of $350 million in 2006 and made an operating profit of $56 million.
“Strategically it is sensible, and raising exposure to the IPTV segment is something they have talked about,” said one analyst, who added that the price was reasonable.
In mid-January, Arris bid $1.2 billion in cash and stock -- or 96 crowns per share -- for Tandberg, an offer that Tandberg TV’s board recommended to shareholders.
Analysts said that Arris is likely to give up on the deal.
JP Morgan analyst Ehud Gelblum said Arris may not have the resources to trump Ericsson’s bid. He estimated the maximum amount Arris could borrow is $1.1 billion to $1.3 billion.
“Arris may not be able to make a truly competitive counter-offer despite the fact that an Arris-Tandberg deal continues to make strategic sense with the financials appearing to work at takeout prices well above the original,” offer, he said in a note to clients.
Arris stands to receive a $18 million termination fee if Tandberg accepts another offer, according to a document filed at the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Tandberg said it would review Ericsson’s offer. Its Chief Financial Officer, Fraser Park, declined to say if he thought the Ericsson bid was friendly or hostile, but said the company would maintain contact with Arris.
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First Published: Tue, Feb 27 2007. 06 37 PM IST
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