Friday, December 19, 2008

Downturn Changes "Build or Buy" Economics

SureWest Communications plans to pull back on the expansion of its fiber-to-the-home network next year in an effort to free up cash to buy other telecommunication companies, according to the Kansas City Business Journal. The possible change in growth strategy is a direct result of the decline in equity values that now makes it more affordable to buy assets rather than build new broadband access infrastructure. 

The economic downturn has lowered the stock values of many other telecommunications companies, while SureWest’s stock price has ticked upward. That happy prospect now makes possible acquisitions that some other firms might not be able to pull off. It’s at least temporarily become cheaper to buy telecom companies and networks than to build out a network, SureWest CEO Steve Oldham says. 

The company plans to cut its capital expenditures by about a third in 2009. In 2008, SureWest’s capital expenditures are expected to total about $86 million. Next year, SureWest plans to reduce its capital expenses to between $55 million and $60 million, with 17 percent dedicated to a network expansion. 

If acquisition opportunities don’t arise for SureWest in the coming months, the company would put more money back into adding more fiber connections on its existing network, Oldham says. 

One predictable outcome of the current recession, as always is the case, is a wave of mergers and acquisitions, and SureWest looks to be a buyer. 

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