Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Carlyle Group is buying Tampa's Syniverse for $2.6 billion

Syniverse Holdings Inc. has a center in Tampa that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, attempting to correct cellphone network problems around the globe.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times (2007)

Syniverse Holdings Inc. has a center in Tampa that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, attempting to correct cellphone network problems around the globe.

In one of the biggest corporate buyouts in this area's history, the Carlyle Group is purchasing Tampa-based Syniverse Technologies for $2.6 billion in cash.

In revealing the deal Thursday, the Carlyle Group said it intends to take Syniverse private and push for continued growth in the company's niche as a major player providing text messaging services that link wireless carriers around the world.

"Syniverse is an outstanding business that plays a vital role in the mobile ecosystem globally," said James Attwood, managing director of Carlyle, the world's second-largest private-equity firm.

Syniverse typically acts as a middleman for cell phone companies, tracking customers who roam onto other carriers' networks.

Its list of mobile clients has swelled to more than 800 companies in more than 160 countries. With $483 million in revenue in its last fiscal year, it ranks among the 15 largest public companies in the bay area.

Private-equity firms like Carlyle are attracted to the industry because of the "explosive, accelerating usage of mobile Internet devices," said John Bright, an analyst with Avondale Partners in Nashville.

Tony Holcombe, Syniverse's president and chief executive, promised minimal job cuts. The company has about 1,400 employees, including 650 at its Tampa headquarters, where Holcombe says annual salaries average about $100,000.

A "very small number" of jobs connected to the public accounting side of the business will be affected, he said. But for most, including the management team, the transition will be seamless.

"The name will stay the same. The company will stay in Tampa. And virtually all employees will be doing the same thing after today as they were doing before the announcement," Holcombe told the St. Petersburg Times.

"We intend to be here for a long time, and I intend to be here for a long time."

Syniverse, formerly known as TSI Telecommunication Services Inc., was created as a unit of the former GTE to handle wireless services like tracking national and international roaming.

In 2001, after GTE had merged with Bell Atlantic to create Verizon, Syniverse was spun off as a private company so it could deal with third-party customers.

Run by a private-equity firm based in Chicago, the company was best known at the time for handling number-switching requests for most major U.S. wireless carriers.

In 2005, Syniverse went public, raising $282 million in the largest initial stock offering by a Tampa Bay public company.

Going private again is a mixed blessing.

While a potential stepping-stone for Syniverse's expansion, the deal eliminates yet another public company from Tampa Bay.

The list of public companies that have been bought or gone private in recent years includes Global Imaging, Catalina Marketing and Checkers Drive-In Restaurants.

This year alone, Walter Energy relocated its headquarters from Tampa to Birmingham, while Brazil's Gerdau SA bought the remaining shares it didn't own of Tampa-based steel producer Gerdau Ameristeel Corp., taking it private.

Among the few local buyouts to top Thursday's announcement came in 2007 when a management-led equity group bought Outback Steakhouse parent OSI Restaurant Partners for $3.2 billion.

As head of the latest company to take the privacy path, Holcombe said the chief benefit is being able to focus on long-term initiatives instead of short-term financial results to appease Wall Street investors.

Holcombe is keen on emerging markets such as India and Brazil and said North American growth has been tremendous, fueled by interest in iPhones, iPads and other smart devices.

The more consumers use their mobile device as a personal computer, the better for companies like Syniverse.

Carlyle has been aggressively seeking bargains in recent months. In July, it announced a $3.8 billion deal to buy U.S. nutritional supplements maker NBTY Inc., and this week, it agreed to pay $3.9 billion for communications cable maker CommScope.

Carlyle is paying $31 per share for Syniverse, a 30 percent premium over the company's closing price on Wednesday of $23.79.

Shares in the company spiked after the deal was announced Thursday morning and closed at $30.50 per share, up $6.71 or 28 percent.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds and Bloomberg Business News contributed to this report. Jeff Harrington can be reached at jharrington@sptimes.com.

. FAST FACTS

Carlyle Group

Business: Asset manager with $90.9 billion of assets under management within 66 funds.

History: Created in 1987. Named after the Carlyle Hotel in New York, but the firm chose to make Washington, D.C., its headquarters so it wouldn't get lost in the crowd of New York investment firms.

Employees: 880 people in 19 countries.

Portfolio: Investor in companies with a combined $84 billion in revenue and more than 398,000 employees worldwide. It has stakes in roughly 250 firms, including Dunkin' Brands, Hertz and Florida's BankUnited.

Sources: Company, Hoover's Inc., Times research

Carlyle Group is buying Tampa's Syniverse for $2.6 billion 10/28/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 11:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up

    Blogs

    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Tampa Bay Times honored for top investigative story in Gerald Loeb annual business awards

    Business

    The Tampa Bay Times was a co-winner in the investigative category for one of the highest honors in business journalism.

    Tampa Bay Times current and former staff writers William R. Levesque, Nathaniel Lash and Anthony Cormier were honored in the investigative category for their coverage of "Allegiant Air" in the 60th Anniversary Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. 
[JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times

]

  3. Pasco woman gives birth to child fathered by 11 year old, deputies say

    Crime

    A Port Richey woman was arrested Tuesday, nearly three years after deputies say she gave birth to a child fathered by an 11-year-old boy.

    Marissa Mowry, 25, was arrested Tuesday on charges she sexually assaulted an 11-year-old and gave birth to his child. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.