Reassuring words from two area executives of companies that plan to stay and grow here
Correction: That was not Syniverse CEO Tony Holcombe who spoke at this event but company CFO David Hitchcock. My apology for the misidentification (Holcombe was slated to speak). Since I was a few minutes late and standing in the back of the UT Vaughn Center conference room, I'm getting my glasses checked.
Two Tampa Bay company executives made a point Tuesday morning of stressing that their firms will remain headquartered in this region in spite of recent events that might have raised questions about their geographic future. Semiconductor company Plasma-Therm CEO Abdul Lateef of St. Petersburg and telecommunications firm Syniverse CFO David Hitchcock each reinforced they are Tampa bay companies with plenty of area employees in remarks made at an early morning University of Tampa business symposium.
Lateef (in file photo by Scott Keeler of the St. Petersburg Times) noted that Plasma-Therm had been owned in recent years by a Swiss company called Oerlikon. When Oerlikon began contemplating shifting some Plasma-Therm activities to Switzerland, it only further motivated the management buyout of the company by Lateef and his partners in 2009. (Footnote: Lateef's group sought buyout funding just as Lehman Brothers collapsed and Wall Street swooned in the fall of 2008, so it's probably a minor miracle the deal even happened.)
Syniverse, a GTE spin-off, went public in 2005 only to go private again last year in a $2.7 billion deal with private equity giant Carlyle Group. Hitchcock says Syniverse has 700 of its 1,500 employees in Tampa and wants to remain a locally headquartered company that will grow faster with Carlyle's backing.
Syniverse helps provide seamless coverage for cell phone and other wireless communication devices when they talk to one another on different networks (like AT&T and Verizon). Hitchcock said this past Christmas was a record day for handling text messages, processing 45,000 texts per second for 13 hours. Syniverse gets a fraction of a penny per processed message.
Bottom line? To the hometown University of Tampa crowd of business managers, it was good news. Nobody in Tampa Bay needs to hear of area companies seeking greener pastures elsewhere in this economy.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist